Report from the Field:
Food Banking in the Middle East
GFN Takes Active Role at FAO Regional Alliance Meeting
By: Chris Rebstock, Senior Vice President of Network Development
On a recent trip to Jordan, I was honored to share the stage with Dr. Moez El Shohdi, CEO and co-founder of The Egyptian Food Bank (EFB), as part of a milestone meeting of the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Alliance Against Hunger and Malnutrition. The meeting served as the official launch of the Regional Alliance Against Hunger and Malnutrition for Arab Countries.
This was a great opportunity to showcase GFN’s expertise in global food banking and work alongside key players in the fight against hunger including our partner, the Egyptian Food Bank (EFB). In March, 2012, GFN signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on the development of food banking in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA). In Jordan, Moez and I collaborated on a presentation on the role of food banking in building food security. Moez focused on the efforts of EFB in expanding food banking in MENA. I discussed the synergy between food banking and the alliances and how, working together, we can find a way to alleviate the global hunger epidemic.
Our presentation was well received by those in attendance including representatives from Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Mauritania, Nigeria, and several other countries in the region, as well as Rome.
One of the noted guests, and a key sponsor, was HRH Princess Basma bint Talal, aunt to the current King of Jordan, King Abdullah II, and head of the Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development. Princess Basma is a strong supporter of anti-hunger programs and her presence was a positive indicator of long-term support.
The experience gave me a deeper awareness of the realities of hunger in Arab countries and offered good insights on how GFN can help be a driver of change. In addition, the meeting brought us in touch with a number of country representatives – notably individuals from Morocco and Mauritania – interested in starting food banking programs in their countries. We will continue to work together with our partner, EFB, to enable positive developments in the future.