Community Resilience

Tider Food Banks in Turkey Launch Emergency Response Hours After Devastating Earthquakes

On February 6, a deadly 7.8 magnitude earthquake and subsequent aftershocks devastated southeastern Turkey (Türkiye) and northwestern Syria. Within hours, Tider Basic Needs Association (Tider), GFN’s member food bank in Turkey, began to respond. They started to assess the damage and needs, and almost immediately began to mobilize food and other critical supplies. Tragically, the death toll has surpassed 41,000 people—with many more injured, missing, and homeless as emergency response teams work around the clock in freezing winter conditions.

Just one week prior to this awful disaster, GFN’s Middle East and Africa Associate Program Director Gabriela Kafarhire was in Istanbul, visiting Tider for its 3rd Annual Food Banking Summit. Tider is a network of 66 locally led food banks across Turkey, and in 2022, the network provided food and other support to 902,000 people.

“Tider’s leadership team, including General Manager Nil Tibukoglu and Board Chair Hande Tibuk, is always garnering support for its food bank members and empowering staff to keep moving forward,” said Kafarhire. “Under their leadership, the network has grown and emergency response efforts like this one are made possible.”

As natural disasters have become increasingly common in Turkey, Tider is also a member of Afet Platformu (Disaster Platform), an association of over 20 NGOs that collectively coordinate disaster response across the country. The group formed in January 2020 after the 6.7 magnitude Elazig earthquake that killed 41 people and destroyed thousands of buildings. Tider’s Board Chair Hande Tibuk said that last week’s earthquake is “by far the worst” disaster that the group has had to respond to since forming.

Tider’s Coordinated Emergency Response

Little did Kafarhire know that just days after the conference, Tider would be called into action to respond to such a devastating and massive crisis.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that this is the deadliest disaster since the country’s founding 100 years ago.

That’s why, in coordination with Afet Platformu, Tider’s food bank teams, including thousands of volunteers, are:

  • Establishing supply warehouses in affected areas including Adana, Adıyaman, Kahramanmaraş, Gaziantep, and Hatay.
  • Procuring tents, sleeping bags, heating units, and hygiene kits for temporary housing.
  • Distributing food and supplies including baby food, diapers, drinking water, power banks, packed lunches, and hygiene and medical supplies.
  • Providing hot meals and food supplies for mobile kitchens and soup kitchens in Kahramanmaraş, Adıyaman, and Gaziantep.
  • Organizing teams of doctors and surgeons for the affected areas.

“The whole country is completely affected…temporary housing is the most crucial need,” said Tibuk. “A lot of the survivors have been transported to other provinces, but many do not want to leave, and they need immediate shelter.” Tibuk noted that cities where survivors are being transported to will also need help “until the collapsed cities are rebuilt, which will take at least one year.”

Food Banks are Crucial to Disaster Response and Recovery

While emergency response is not typically part of a food bank’s daily operations, crises like this show us the critical role that food banks play in supporting communities. As locally led organizations with deep connections to the communities they serve, food bank networks like Tider can quickly adapt and navigate broken supply chains to deliver immediate aid and long-term recovery.

“Food banks tend to provide consistent support to a group of individuals or community agencies, but they are called to respond to emergencies more often than many would imagine,” said Kafarhire.

GFN is committed to helping food banks prepare for emergencies through specialized technical assistance, advising members as they create and update disaster response plans, and providing financial support where possible.

“Within hours of finding out about the earthquakes and touching base with the Tider team to confirm that their teams were safe, GFN began a cross-functional workgroup to provide assistance through fundraising, disaster protocol recommendations, and connections to logistics, funding, and supply partners in Turkey and surrounding European countries,” said Kafarhire.

GFN will continue to provide support to Tider through the emergency phase and beyond as people in the region will need critical food, supplies, and recovery aid over the days, weeks, and months ahead.

To aid the immediate earthquake response in Turkey, GFN has created an Emergency Response Fund to support Tider’s critical efforts. Please donate today to the Emergency Response Fund. Your support will help provide people with urgently needed food and relief supplies.

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