During the days of Fallas the city of Valencia has been filled with people. The continuous flow of people walking and visiting the Fallas has involved the purchase of food made in the stalls installed on the street. One consequence is that there are traces of food everywhere. All of us have done it. This observation has made me reflect if we always take advantage of the food that we have left over or food that we have bought but we will not use. Food is wasted in the production, distribution and consumption process.
This reflection has led me to think that managing the pantry and the fridge is simple, but how are the products that volunteers, supermarkets, companies and institutions donate to Food Banks managed?
The operation and organization of a food bank is similar to a company, with different areas and a management team. It consists of an area of supply and transport, warehouse, distribution, accounting, patronage, communication and direction. In general, the operation is as follows: firstly, the food that is obtained for free is collected, either through agreements with private companies, many of them agro-food and transport companies, and with public companies; also through food surpluses of the European Social Fund; donations from individuals and subsidies from public institutions for the maintenance of infrastructures (warehouse, cold stores, wheelbarrows …). The surge in donated goods leaves food banks with many perishable items that must be quickly distributed before expiration. Furthermore, the product mix that they receive is unpredictable and changes from week to week. The challenge is to move the food, and minimize the wasted amounts. Logistics to the rescue!
All products are stored for a short period of time, selected and subjected to a sanitary control. Later they are distributed to specialized charitable centers and associations, that are responsible for delivering food to individuals according to their needs.
Despite all the donations, these banks are deficit because the demand has increased a lot. A logistical and legislative problem that arises, is that perishable products must be transported in cold stores and this can not always be achieved.
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