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19441940 855760037921674 7427866545441327618 oIn May and June, FEBA facilitated two peer-to-peer visits to the food banks of Courtrai in Belgium and of Lisbon in Portugal.

Both were very successful and many innovative best practices were exchanged. This program is sponsored by Kellogg. Read more for the summary on both peer-to-peer visits. 

Visiting the West Flanders food bank

On May 30th and June 1st, three food bank executives from the Ciechanów, Kielce and Olsztyn  food bank in Poland visited the West Flanders food bank in Courtrai, Belgium, to exchange best practices and innovative solutions in food banking. The West Flanders food bank is located in Courtrai, a city of 75,000 people whereof 11,000 experience food poverty. In 2016, the food bank distributed 1 500 tons of food to 13,650 people through 82 charities. Read more for the key learnings of this peer visit.

Fundraising at national level

One major learning point for the Polish team, was that 70% of the funding for the West Flanders food bank comes from the Belgian Federation. Indeed the federation handles most part of the fundraising for its member food banks managing to raise money from individuals through crowdfunding. This is very different from the Polish system, where each food bank is more or less responsible for funding itself through partnerships and public sector funding. A very useful takeaway for the Polish team, who can replicate this model among their food banks and the Polish Federation. 

Time spent to interact with charities

The food bank of Flanders monitors and works in close collaboration with all of its 82 charities to ensure the re-inclusion and progress among all beneficiaries. The food bank volunteers pay monthly visits to the charities, and take the time to discuss the charities’ current and future needs regarding food deliveries.

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Meeting the Lisbon food bank

On June 20th and 21st, the president of the Polish Food Bank Federation, the vice-president of food bank in Ciechanów and the president food bank in Kielce came to the Lisbon food bank, a food bank founded in 1991 which today distributes 9 300 tons of food to 400 charities annually

The Portuguese hosts provided thorough presentations on food their sourcing approaches to: fund raising, managing volunteers, managing relationships with charities and distribution of non-food products through their sister non-profit organization “Entrajuda”. A visit to the national wholesale fresh produce market (MARL), where the food bank receives surpluses of fruits and vegetables every day, and to Entrajuda, took place. Read more for all the key findings. 

Providing management consultancy to non-profits through “Entrajuda”

The non-profit “Entrajuda” was launched in 2014, as a solution to strengthen the non-profit sector by providing access to resources and management practices that will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of charities on social inclusion and reducing poverty. “Entrajuda” is a great resource for supporting non-profits who need coaching, support in managing their relation with their beneficiaries or with their finances, and is not only useful to the Lisbon food bank partner charities but also to the 1.663 other non-profits across Portugal. Currently “Entrajuda” supplies non-food products to victims of the forest fires in northern Portugal.

Teaching solidarity to 5 000 kids and teenagers

Another inspiring key learning point during the peer visit, was the food banks’ efforts to communicate the message of “solidarity” to primary and high school kids and teen agers. In 2016, the Lisbon food bank managed to engage with more than 5 000 of them not only by having volunteers presenting the work of food banks, but also by playing games, doing quizzes and involving the children in annual food drives By talking to children and young adults about food banks, volunteering has become a widely recognized activity for young people, who see it as a valuable experience to help the vulnerable citizens of Lisbon.

DDUj1HaXYAA YF Paper for food – recycling paper to fund food

In 2012, the food raising campaign “Paper for Food” was launched. The simple idea is 100% sustainable, since it links the recycling of paper, to the raising of funds to support the operations of the food bank. Each year schools, partner charities and individuals are encouraged to collect and bring “wasted paper” to the food bank, who then sells it to a recycling company, who returns the value of recycled paper with a monetary donation to the food bank.

All in all both peer visits have provided much learning and many new ideas for fundraising, recruiting volunteers, working with charities and last but not least, showing more solidarity to the people who need it most.

As put by the Director of the Ciechanów Food Bank:

"We received a lot of inspiration during this visit and we encourage others to participate in this kind of peer- to- peer visit. We would also like to thank FEBA and the Kellogg Company for giving us the opportunity for this visit."