Red Argentina LogoRed Argentina de Bancos de Alimentos

8 years, 17 food banks, and 90 million meals

Last month GFN President and CEO Jeff Klein traveled to Argentina to attend and speak at the 8th National Conference of Red Argentina de Bancos de Alimentos (Red).

Argentina La Plata Agency

La Plata Food Bank

GFN President and CEO visiting the food bank in La Plata, Argentina during his visit.

The national conference was an important opportunity for staff from all 17 food banks in the Red network to gather and discuss challenges, share experiences, and work together to develop innovative strategies to fight hunger.  The focus of this year’s conference was “lasting public policies to promote nutrition and reduce hunger in Argentina".

Klein also made a visit to Banco Alimentario de La Plata, where he met with local leaders and volunteers, and was interviewed by local press. Read the local press coverage.

The Red network of food banks is a shining example of the impact of national networks – where food banks work together to increase impact, serve as a collective public voice against hunger and malnutrition, and share resources to ensure food reaches as many hungry people as possible.

As part of GFN’s mission, we work collaboratively to help develop new national networks of food banks and support those like Argentina that already exist. After eight years of development and growth, we take a look at what makes the national network of food banks in Argentina such a vital resource in providing nutritious food to the hungry and how working together in a network increases impact.

A Profile of Red Argentina de Bancos de Alimentos:

  • Founded in 2004
  • Network includes 17 food banks throughout the country, and one food bank in development
  • Collectively, food banks distribute food to more than 1,300 community organizations that serve over 200,000 people each year.
  • Distributed more than 90 million meals since operations began.
  • 73% of those served are children and adolescents
  • Founding member of The Global FoodBanking Network

The Red’s mission is to enhance the actions of its member food banks and develop strategic alliances to reduce hunger and promote nutritional education contributing to the promotion of the dignity of every human being in Argentina.

The network applies the traditional food banking model of rescuing food that cannot be sold from manufacturers, retail stores, farms, and other sources, and redistributes that food through a network of community agencies including child feeding programs, hospitals, homeless shelters and more. In addition to the rescue and redistribution of food and grocery products, the network places a special emphasis on nutritional programs.

Nutritional Training and Education
In 2010 the network and select food banks began providing training workshops to beneficiary organizations that included topics such as the prevention of malnutrition, food preparation, food safety, and nutritional education. Through another program supported by Unilever and the Argentina Association of Nutritionists, food banks provide nutritional training and education to mothers of children who receive food from the food banks to prepare nutritional meals at home.

Rescue of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
In 2009 Red began a strategic partnership with Kraft Foods to increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables food banks rescue from supermarkets and production zones. Fresh produce is an important part of enriching the nutritional quality of food distributed to beneficiary organizations. Since the program began, food banks have rescued and distributed more than 2,750,000 kilograms of produce.

Red Argentina Volunteer picks kiwiRed has also developed innovative programs working with farmers and volunteers to rescue fruits and vegetables directly from the field. La Chocleada is a program where community volunteers harvest corn from fields donated by farmers. Red distributes the corn and corn products to food banks throughout the network, and exchanges any excess crops for other much needed staples such as chicken, milk, rice, and cooking oil. Since the program began in 2006, more than 1,057,000 kg of corn -- the equivalent of 3,171,657 meals -- has been distributed!

Red also mobilizes volunteers to help harvest other crops.  Many times farmers choose not to harvest certain fruits or vegetables because while they are perfectly good, they don’t meet commercial standards for aesthetic reasons. For example, volunteers work to pick kiwis that are smaller than average and therefore not harvested for commercial sale.

Sharing Resources and Coordinating Logistics
The presence of a strong national network allows food banks to not only share ideas and best practices, but also coordinate the distribution of large donations one food bank alone would not be able to handle. Last year, Red facilitated the exchange of over half a million kilograms of food. To help with the logistics of food distribution, Red forms strategic partnerships with transportation and logistics companies. Red has also undertaken a project in partnership with Cargill and Microsoft Argentina to implement software that will allow information to be automated for more efficient food distribution and exchanges between food banks.

A Collective Voice Against Hunger
As in other places around the world with national food bank networks, Red Argentina de Bancos de Alimentos serves as an example of a collective voice against hunger and malnutrition at the national level, as well as being an important regional and international voice. In addition to being a founding member of GFN, Red Argentina is also a founding member of Nutrición 10 Hambre Cero, (nutrition 10, hunger zero) and la Confederacion de la Sociedad Civil (the Confederation of Civil Society) and a member of the Alliance Against Hunger and Malnutrition. Red also raises awareness through a national food drive, Sumá 1 + a tu mesa, and campaigns like the recent Knorr Soup Week.

Large Scale Impact
All of these efforts add up to the impact of providing food to over 200,000 people every year suffering from hunger in Argentina. As the food bank network continues to grow and works hard to meet the demand within its borders, it also serves as a model and a mentor for food banks and networks throughout Latin America and around the world. This is evident through its participation and instruction at the annual GFN Food Bank Leadership Institute, and its consistent willingness to work with fellow South American countries like Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay that have or are investigating the establishment of food banks.

 

Learn more about Red Argentina de Bancos de Alimentos at www.redbancosdealimentos.org

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