How a Barcelona Food Bank Deals With High Inflation Through Donations and Engaging Volunteers
Banc del Aliments is a nonprofit based in Barcelona, Spain, whose goal is to fight food waste. Established in 1987, the food bank recovers food that would have otherwise ended up in landfills and instead distributes it to people in need.
In total, the organization has recovered more than 9 million kilograms of food and works with over 130,000 beneficiaries in the region of Catalonia. The nonprofit works closely with volunteers to ensure that all food donations are transported on time.
Their slogan is Ajudar omple (translated from Catalan: help to fill). The meaning behind this expression is because volunteers help fill food donation boxes, people’s stomachs, and their own lives with purpose.
Benevity International employees frequently volunteer at the organization in Barcelona. During our last volunteering day, we had the opportunity to speak with Director Bosco Fonts Cavestany to learn more about how the organization works and how they connect and engage with volunteers in Barcelona. Here’s a summary of the interview.
Volunteers are key to our operations and our mission. Without volunteers, we simply would not be able to exist. They are our champions and fundamental to our nonprofit
How long have you been working here and what inspired you to start?
I've been working at Bancs del Aliments for two years now. Previously, I was working as an Executive in the food industry. When that chapter of my life came to a close, I become a Director at this foundation.
What is the mission of your organization and how do you work towards it?
We have a double mission. Our first mission is sustainability, our goal is to save food from going to waste and provide it to people in need. An example of one of the sustainability values that we embody would be when there is excess fruit, instead of allowing it to go to waste, we will process it and turn it into a long-lasting juice in a Tetra Brik. This small yet simple task enables us to achieve our goals.
The second leg of our mission is solidarity, we come together to help people in need and support them by providing meals.
How do you get support for your nonprofit?
We get support from three main sources. The first one is the local community which is made up of individuals who have become friends with our food bank. They support us on a monthly basis through donations. The second channel is through corporations, we conduct fundraising activities with various different companies on Benevity on an international and local level. And lastly, we receive support from government institutions where we apply for grants and subsidies.
What are some of the challenges you face?
The major challenge we are currently facing is high inflation, which is particularly challenging in the food industry. Although we recover fruit from the farms and supermarkets that were intended for the landfill, we also need to buy food. We complement whatever we don't receive from the surplus by buying it, so we need funds in order to purchase the food. Nowadays, as a result of inflation being so high, the price of food has significantly increased. Therefore it’s become a more challenging environment for us to be in right now and to conduct the work we do.
How do you work with volunteers?
We work with volunteers on a daily basis. Volunteers come here to help us sort out, process and distribute food for the different charities and beneficiaries all over Barcelona. At the warehouse, they help us get items ready for delivery and make sure they are distributed to our beneficiaries on time by sorting out all the different produce we have here. It’s quite active and volunteers tend to get super busy with all the various tasks.
In total, we provide food to around 330 entities, in turn, they give the food to people in need. NGOs come here to gather the food or sometimes, we also ship it to them.
People sign up to volunteer and the head of logistics allocates a time shift. We have different avenues to reach volunteers to our nonprofit, on Alaya by Beenvity where we connect with corporate volunteers. We also work with schools and have individuals coming in from our website.
What are some of the benefits of working with volunteers?
Without volunteers, we would not be able to exist, because we need to have a limit to the amount of staff we can hire, so we rely heavily on volunteer work. Volunteers are also our champions, they support us and are proud of being volunteers for our nonprofit.
Our slogan is Ajudar Omple in Catalan, which means help to fill - it has a lot of play on words. Our aim is to fill boxes full of food donations, in order to fill other people’s stomachs, and in turn, you fill yourself with satisfaction by helping others. And that’s exactly what our volunteers do.
What kind of volunteer opportunities do you post on Alaya by Benevity?
We have quite a few volunteer opportunities listed on Alaya by Benevity. One of them is a field-volunteering where we need help in putting together food donation packages for our different charities and beneficiaries and getting them ready for delivery. We also have a goods collection activity, in which we ask corporate employees to donate food items such as rice, milk, olive oil, canned foods, etc.
How do you receive support from Alaya by Benevity?
Since listing on the platform, we’ve received a total of 100 volunteers ranging from different corporations based in Barcelona. We’re thrilled that we’ve been given the opportunity to connect with companies and their employees, and we look forward to continuing our work with them in the new year, as well as welcoming new volunteers. We also receive donations from the Benevity Causes Portal directly in Euros which is greatly appreciated.
How do goods donations operate at your nonprofit?
Every November, we conduct an enormous huge food drive called Gran Recapte in Catalan (the Great Food Collection in English), where we mobilize the entire region of Catalonia. This year, we had 25,000 volunteers that went to supermarkets throughout the state and encouraged people to donate food items.
Essentially, they would stand by the entrance and ask shoppers to buy items such as beans, pasta, milk, etc., and then place it in a big box which was later transported to our warehouse here. We’ve been running this campaign for years now and it’s been a truly amazing food drive, the results are impeccable.
Connect with volunteers for your nonprofit
Benevity helps nonprofits like Banc del Aliments to connect with volunteers in their regions looking to do good. Through our network, your nonprofit can gain more support with:
- Field-volunteering – recruit volunteers for support catered to your needs, e.g. cleanups, meal prep, farm work, etc.
- Skills-based volunteering – access employees for pro-bono support. Get professional help in translation, marketing and web design
- Goods donation –donations such as books, canned food, clothes, etc.
- Donations – receive monetary funds from corporations worldwide
Create your first volunteer opportunity by submitting your needs below, and we’ll take care of the rest: