Food Banks in the Czech Republic Launch Project of 150 New Food Aid Distribution Points

In a bid to expand the assistance provided by non-profit organizations, food banks in the Czech Republic have announced the launch of a new project that will establish 150 additional food aid distribution points. The initiative, unveiled by Ales Slavicek, Chair of the Czech Federation of Food Banks, during a press conference held in Ricany, aims to address the growing demand for food aid in areas currently lacking access to such services.

The three-year project, with a budget of CZK 69 million, will be funded by the European Union. Slavicek stated that each of the country’s 15 food banks will establish ten distribution points within their respective regions. This move is expected to benefit at least 50,000 individuals who are in need of food assistance.

The primary focus of the project will be to provide regular food aid through static or mobile distribution points, where it is currently unavailable. The success of the initiative will be evaluated after three years, and Slavicek expressed optimism about securing further funding to sustain and expand the project in the future.

Marian Jurecka, the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, expressed confidence in the project’s effectiveness and emphasized the government’s commitment to its continuity. He acknowledged that the rising number of requests for food aid from areas outside the existing distribution network necessitated the expansion of services to meet the growing demand.

With most of the project costs allocated for fuel and new staff, Slavicek highlighted the importance of these resources to ensure efficient operations of the distribution points. Additionally, he emphasized that the Moravian-Silesian and Usti Regions faced the greatest challenges in accessing food aid and were thus a priority for the new distribution points.

Currently, food aid is primarily provided through 1,400 non-profit organizations that distribute food from food bank warehouses. However, the collaboration between food banks and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has enabled the trial of a German model, wherein food aid is distributed directly by the food banks themselves. In the initial two weeks of the trial, 41 towns participated, and approximately 2,900 individuals received aid through this method. It is important to note that distribution through NGOs will continue alongside this new approach.

Food banks in the Czech Republic work in partnership with retail chains, producers, and growers to distribute unsellable food items to individuals and families in need. The aid primarily targets vulnerable groups such as the elderly, families in need, single parents, foster families, the disabled, and the homeless. Eligibility for food aid is determined by municipal social workers and NGOs.

Last year alone, Czech food banks distributed a staggering 11,000 tonnes of food, with an estimated value of CZK 700 million. This figure underscores the crucial role these organizations play in addressing food insecurity and alleviating the suffering of those experiencing economic hardship across the country.

The launch of the new project marks a significant step forward in expanding the reach of food aid in the Czech Republic, enabling food banks to respond to the increasing demand for assistance in underserved regions. With the support of the European Union and the commitment of local stakeholders, this initiative holds the promise of bringing much-needed relief to tens of thousands of people and sets a positive precedent for future endeavors in combating food insecurity.

Article by Prague Forum

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