Charitable initiative: Discover the European Food Banks Federation


Our charitable initiative page looks at a federation that helps food banks work better.

The first food bank, the St. Mary’s Food Bank, was founded by John Van Hengel in Phoenix , Arizona (USA) in 1967. John Van Hengel grew up in Los Angeles and moved to Arizona in 1965 where he became a volunteer at a soup kitchen. The refectory had an annual budget of only $8,000 and this induced John Van Hengel to seek out sources for free products. In the beginning, he recovered vegetables left in the fields and fruit remaining on the trees. However, he obtained more products than the soup kitchen where he worked. So, he delivered the remaining products to other relief organizations, making it possible for them to offer additional meals.

After a while, the need to give structure to this operation led to the creation of the first food bank. Van Hengel and his colleagues soon began to recover surplus food from many supermarkets,which sometimes sent their vans directly to the warehouse. The news about this new kind of bank went viral and following the example of the St. Mary’s Food Bank more Food Banks were established worldwide.

EFBE’s mission is to reduce hunger and malnutrition through the fight against food waste and the support and development of Food Banks in countries where they are most needed. Preventing food waste improves the resilience of the food supply chain, helps our planet and contributes to food security. That is where Food Banks come in. Food donation is a beneficial solution to prevent food waste and reduce food insecurity: it is a business friendly, environmentally sensitive, and socially responsible alternative.

Food banking values   
All its full members operate along the same values contained in the FEBA Charter: giving, sharing, fighting food waste and European solidarity.

– Giving: products received and distributed are free of charge, food bank operations depend primarily on volunteers and on the support of multiple private and public organizations and individuals.

– Sharing: products are shared fairly and without any discrimination between the receiving partner charity organizations and the people they support.

– Fighting food waste: by recovering nutritious surpluses from the food chain, Food Banks play a major role in reducing food wastage.

Calling for solidarity across Europe: Food Banks foster social cohesion between all the constituents of societies at local national and European levels as well as solidarity between themselves whatever the countries they are active in.

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