Fighting Hunger in Colombia
A 2018 United Nations study found that food insecurity is a deadlier crisis than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined: 9 million people die each year from hunger and hunger-related diseases. Banco de Alimentos was founded in 2001 to reduce food insecurity in the Columbian capital of Bogotá. A staggering 16.4% of Colombia’s population experiences malnutrition, and Banco de Alimentos emphasizes the urgent need to end the hunger crisis and its associated impacts on public health, especially among children and adolescents.
Hunger creates a cycle of poverty that can transcend generations, forcing families to subsist without essential nutrients, often preventing them from working, getting an education, or otherwise improving their lives. Once chronic hunger is eliminated among program beneficiaries, they are empowered to realize their potential and live with greater independence.
In addition to providing food security for 32 children and their families during the pandemic with support from CAF America’s donors, the foundation is organizing educational activities and public awareness campaigns that are key to the sustainability of its work. In several underserved communities around Bogotá, Banco de Alimentos hosts workshops for children and adolescents related to food, nutrition, personal hygiene, and healthy habits that can lower the risk of chronic diseases. These events aim to be inclusive of parents and other community members to participate and learn, and to date, have reached nearly 200 people.
The organization also performs nutritional screenings, provides personal nutritional consultation, and offers basic medical support to the communities it serves, helping to drive progress on SDG 3, Good Health and Well-Being.
The work of Banco de Alimentos is powered by the generosity of private businesses, public organizations, NGOs, and churches working in partnership to support underrepresented communities. Its vision of reaching new communities of underserved children and adolescents across the country will be actualized by a continued commitment from donors who are equally driven to end hunger. The crushing effects of hunger occur in tandem with issues such as poverty, abandonment, and violence, which makes Banco de Alimentos’ short- and long-term interventions vital to the future of Colombia.
Banco de Alimentos Updates:
What are some impacts you have made as an organization that you are proud of and would like to highlight further?
Banco de Alimentos Associação Civil approaches 24 years as an organization in 2022. Since our founding, we have worked hard to fight hunger and food waste by feeding, educating and transformative actions. Our feeding actions consist of “Urban Harvest” activities. We collect food that is still suitable for human consumption but has lost commercial value and would typically be discarded. We then distribute it to 42 social entities, which prepare and serve meals to more than 23 thousand vulnerable people daily. Our “Nutrition Education” actions comprise of teaching the social entities to prepare nutritious and tasty meals using the rescued food as a whole, with the high nutritional value parts such as leaves, stalks, bark and seeds of vegetables and fruits. Finally, our “Transformative Actions” are related to increasing society's awareness of environmental and social problems and how this reality can be changed. We prepare and offer courses, workshops and other continuous communication activities in order to build a more sustainable world. In the face of a pandemic, we found ourselves challenged to go further, and we expanded our operations. We started to collect food baskets, food cards and other food items to distribute them directly to the most vulnerable people facing food insecurity. We proudly developed and implemented a logistics plan to attend not only the metropolitan region of São Paulo city (where we are located) but also several regions of Brazil, especially those affected by major natural disasters. During the pandemic, we achieved the following results: 268,933 food baskets delivered; 74,884 food cards delivered; 1,858,268 people positively impacted. 4,6 million pounds of rescued food delivered to 42 social entities by our “Urban Harvest” activities. From 1998 to 2021, about 33 million pounds of food were delivered and we avoid that 22 million pounds of food went to waste.
Has your organization received any additional grants from CAF America? If so please elaborate on what the grants were used for and the impact they have had on your organization.
In 2021, we received some personal employee donations through CAF America that together was about US$ 2,000. This was used to strengthen our logistical operations. Through CAF America we also received a grant of US$ 600,000 from Qualcomm, which was converted into R$ 3,000,000. With this amount, we distributed 30,000 food cards of R$ 100 each, to 30,000 families facing food insecurity all over Brazil.
The food card works as an income supplementation and gives the family the possibility to choose the food they want to buy. This includes foods rich in protein that are not commonly present in food baskets like, eggs, milk, meat, chicken, etc. In addition, food cards are usually used in the area near the beneficiaries residence. This increases the sales of small traders located in regions at the periphery which contributes indirectly to increasing the income of many other families affected by the pandemic.
The grants positively impacted our logistical operations which could attend to other regions of Brazil. In addition to the state of São Paulo, where we had always focused our efforts, we can attend to other vulnerable regions in the states of Paraná, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, Espírito Santo, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, Brasília, Goiás, Piauí and Sergipe. This was a big step towards consolidating our expansion plan in a country where, unfortunately, half the population suffers from some level of food insecurity.
Has the focus of our organization changed? If so, how and why?
Our focus has always been to fight hunger and food waste through three pillars of action: Urban Harvest, Nutrition Education and Transformative Actions. All of these activities greatly increased during the last two years. With the grants received through CAF America, we started to use food cards and we could greatly increase our actions delivering food to the remote regions of our country.
However, we believe that we must go further, have a greater impact, and reach more people. So, we are working to expand our operations by increasing the network of food donors and the number of the social entities benefited. Also, we are structuring our model of social technology to replicate our operations in other cities of Brazil. We intend to increase our social impact by aggregating a new set of awareness activities. Nutritional and environmental educational programs help avoid food waste and teach the preparation of healthy and tasty meals.