Food Banking in Paraguay
GFN is pleased to welcome Fundación Banco de Alimentos Paraguay (BAPY) as a newly certified member of The Global FoodBanking Network. Senior Vice President of Network Development, Chris Rebstock, visited the food bank in July for a key step in the review process. Chris spent several days assessing the food bank’s operating standards, warehouse storage capacity and condition, and ensuring compliance with food safety standards. His visit included working sessions with the food bank’s board of directors, staff, and volunteers, as well as visits to some of the beneficiary organizations that receive food from the food bank.
The story of food bank development in Paraguay once again demonstrates the benefits of a global network – inspiring development, sharing of best practices, and leveraging global relationships.
As the only food bank in Paraguay, BAPY faces a significant challenge. Approximately 38% of the population lives in poverty, and an estimated 18% live in extreme poverty.
The food bank was officially founded in March 1997, following a meeting with officials of a program in the Catholic Church. Marco Lucchini, who now leads the Italian Federation of Food Banks, was among those who attended the meeting and offered his counsel. The young food bank also received assistance from GFN Founding Member, Red Argentina de Bancos de Alimentos (featured in August 2012 eNews), and its member food bank, Fundación Banco de Alimentos Buenos Aires.
In 2004, BAPY held its first national food drive, collecting donations from consumers through the engagement of major grocery retailers throughout the country. The grocers then distributed the collected food to charitable feeding organizations that had been vetted by the food bank for distribution to those in need. This food drive continues to be the signature event of BAPY, and is its single largest source of products.
Today, BAPY provides food to more than 13,000 people through a network of 110 charitable organizations in the capital, central region, and interior. Recently the food bank has focused on expanding food sourcing activities beyond the national food drive and introducing significant amounts of fruits and vegetables into their system.
With the goal of increasing the number of people served, and improving the nutritional quality of food provided, the food bank has constructed a new warehouse on the site of the city’s central produce market. They also launched a campaign calling on retail grocers, food distributors, and the business community to help reach the goal of providing food for 60,000 people.
In March 2012, Guillermos Fanego, member of the BAPY Board of Directors, attended GFN’s annual Food Bank Leadership Institute:
“…seeing the stories, like the Egyptian Food Bank, for example, all of us are really excited to improve our development here in Asunción and hopefully, in the rest of the country... Their experience is truly inspiring! We hope to do the best possible to grow the Food Bank here, because we see it is a great need. … There are so many people out there waiting for the help we can provide.”
Looking to the future, the Paraguay food bank will work to expand both the scale and reach of its operations, creating a plan to extend food bank operations throughout the country. GFN will provide technical assistance and expertise to help them reach their goal, and leverage relationships with global food and grocery companies to help increase the amount of food donated.
“Our work with FBAP represents a wonderful collaboration, where GFN can provide valuable technical assistance and introduce substantial resources to a well-run and effective existing food bank so that its scale can be expanded,” said GFN President and CEO, Jeff Klein.
Learn more about Fundación Banco de Alimentos Paraguay at http://bancoalimentos.blogspot.com/