At SOS Foodbank Warsaw, sharing of food is literal – it isn’t a Facebook post, Twitter picture, or Instagram video – it’s real people giving to those who have nothing to give.
Every day we work to make sure nutritious food is reaching those in need and I am very proud to have been part of this effort for nearly two years. Recent data shows more than 20 million EU households are unable to afford a high-quality meal – defined as one with meat, fish, chicken or a vegetarian equivalent – every other day. That’s more than 10% of the entire population.
Prior to my engagement with SOS Foodbank, I ran nutrition workshops - this was the first time I noticed the problem of poverty in Poland and the incorrect dietary habits of economically disadvantaged people. Now I work to prevent this phenomenon. The SOS FoodBank Foundation in Warsaw was created as a solution to the large amounts of food going to waste or being intentionally destroyed, while people in society are still starving and malnourished.
Every day we collect wholesome and diverse foodstuffs from manufacturers and distributors. We ensure it does not go to waste and finds its way to people in need instead.
In 2015, we collected over 4.5 million kilograms of food. To distribute this, we work with 147 non-governmental organizations, who ensure this food is distributed to 56,000 people in need from Warsaw and the Mazovia province. Every 30 minutes, food is collected by organisations or institutions feeding people in need, such as large families, the sick, the homeless, lonely people or recovering addicts.
Redistributing food that was earmarked for disposal seems a simple idea in principle – and indeed it is – but it’s a mammoth task to execute. Fortunately, we receive help from many organisations, including shelters and social care centres, and for our ‘Share a Meal’ initiative Eli Lilly and Elanco team members from the Warsaw office helped out as part of the company’s Global Day of Service.
30 Eli Lilly and Elanco employees helped sort food collected at Warsaw supermarkets and redirected to those who need it most. It takes high commitment and stamina of the whole team, who managed to sort eight tonnes of food in one day.
It is very encouraging to know there are companies like Elanco committed to contributing to affordable and abundant food production and ensuring food is available to those who need it, particularly as we approach the Christmas period – our busiest time of year.
But, we need more help from businesses that see value not just in improving sustainable food production on a global scale, but also helping to ensure their local community can access the high-quality meals they need. I hope our cooperation with Elanco continues in the future because there is nothing more rewarding than being able to share food with those who have nothing to share.
1. Eurostat. EU-SILC Survey data, % of the population unable to afford a meal with meat, fish, chicken or a vegetarian equivalent every second day, 2013; recalculated for number of households. Source: Eurostat, EU-SILC Survey.
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