In Spain, the number of people in need of support from a food bank is growing substantially caused by the economic crisis. Near the Packaging Coatings operations in Vilafranca, a volunteers association has been active for many years to supply people without resources with the essential and basic needs. The current economic recession has caused the number of needy people to increase. The level of unemployment in the region with a population of about 46,000 people is now around 20% and there are more than 100 families at the risk of social exclusion.
The activities carried out by the association range from the collection of clothing and food to the organization of workshops and social events. The association’s aim is twofold: helping the needy and fostering the voluntary enlistment among the entire community. Caused by the economic crisis there is an increasing number of people without resources that are badly in need of food. To that end a food bank was created in April 2012 under the name ‘Som Solidaris’ (We are Solidary). The initiators were a former mayor and 17 other retired residents.
Andres Salido and Josep Anton Avila from Packaging Coatings had heard of this initiative and decided to contact the group to see if they could be of any help. They then learned that the food bank was limited to the distribution of ‘dry food’ (basic products such as cereals, olive oil, pasta, milk powder, etc.) from donations by shops and individuals as there were no adequate facilities to store ‘fresh food’. Our colleagues returned to work and discussed this problem with other colleagues, most of them living in the area where the food bank operates. All were convinced that support should be given to construct a refrigerated storage room and the Community Program was asked for funding. Site Manager Gabriel Giménez was invited to visit the food bank and was introduced to the staff involved. He was impressed with what was going on: ‘to be honest I was overwhelmed by the energy and willingness of that group of people. Instead of using the Sunday to rest, they are struggling to get food from different associations, from the market that is held every Sunday, from the town hall and so on.’
It did not take long for our volunteers to help set-up the badly needed cold-storage room. 8 volunteering colleagues helped to redesign the local space by moving shelves, carrying boxes, food, changing the existing layout and to choose the right technical equipment for the refrigerated room as well as the company to install it. Once installed, they helped to allocate the different products collected. Both the association members and the volunteering employees involved felt very proud to have been able to create a better situation to help families in difficult situations. ‘It was amazing to see their grateful faces’, said Finance Assistant Rosa Rodriguez. ‘We ended the day helping them to pack food in boxes that would be shared during the weekly distribution.’
With this cold-storage room the food bank will be able to complement and offer a better diet to an increased number of residents, especially to poor families with children. The commitment of our colleagues in Vilafranca does not stop with this first successful action as they are determined to continue to be involved with ‘Som Solidaris’ on a regular basis by collecting and preparing food and by distributing fresh products such as: vegetables, fruit, meat and fish in perfect conditions to families in poor circumstances. A real gesture of solidarity - COOL!