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7

BACKGROUND

The vision of Ger. Vassilopoulos, the Food Bank, was founded in 1995 as an independent, self-managed public welfare organization (Presidential Decree OJN 540/21.6.95).
It is the first body in Greece dedicated solely to the alleviation of poverty and the reduction of food waste. Since its establishment, it becomes an equal member of the European Confederation of Food Banks (FEBA), bringing to Greece the model and the structure of the rest of the Food Banks of Europe.

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The first Food Bank building in Melissia.

At a totally different period, he tries to raise the people’s awareness regarding the solutions to the problems of food supply insecurity while at the same time hundreds of tons of food which will have ended up in the dumping grounds are supporting the work of institutions and food kitchens all over Attiki.

In 2001 it moves from a smaller building in Melissia to its present day installations at Kryoneri, Attiki. This was yet another offer of Mr. Ger. Vassilopoulos to the Food Bank!

In an area of 1500 m2 with a two-store warehouse, refrigerated, deep-freeze chambers and all the necessary technical equipment, it gathers food, soft drinks, detergents and personal hygiene products which it offers for free; it’s only profit being the joy of giving!

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A photo from the inauguration of the new building of the Food Bank on May31, 2001.

Throughout its long operation, it has never received 1 euro from the State. It depends solely on private initiative, promoting volunteering, while it develops important know-how in its area of expertise.

It is registered in the National Register of Private Institutions in the Non-profit Organizations Sector for the rendering of social welfare services (092111IDE16006O14N/0505) and in the Special Register of Voluntary Non-Governmental Organizations (09211IDE16006O14N/0440), while it is controlled by the competent authorities.

In 1998, a branch is founded in Thessaloniki, which operates independently as the Thessaloniki Food Bank. It aspires to help in the creation of Food Banks in all the big cities of the country.

Speech of the President of the Food Bank, Mr. Ger. Vassilopoulos, during the inauguration ceremony of the new building at Kryoneri, Attiki, on May 31, 2001.
I welcome you on behalf of the board of directors and I thank all of you for honoring with your presence the inauguration of the Food Bank Institution for the Elimination of Hunger.

I would like to say a few words about the Food Bank for some of our guests who are not familiar with it.
The Food Bank is a non-profit organization. Its aim is the elimination of hunger and the reduction of food waste.

It was inspired and founded in Arizona USA by John Henkel *** in 1966. There are about 400 Food Banks in the US today.

Within the European Community, there are 147 Food Banks.

There 9 in Belgium.

31 in Spain.

74 in France.

16 in Italy.

5 in Portugal.

In Greece there is one in Athens and a branch in Thessaloniki.

Our Bank in Athens opened in the last trimester of 1995 quietly as an experiment.

We didn’t expect it to go so well and to have the results we have today.

In Athens and Thessaloniki, 130 industries mostly food industries, distribution companies and super markets offer food and other products such as soft drinks, detergents, cleaning agents etc. which are close to their expiry date.

The Bank helps 110 Institutions, parishes and the Municipality of Athens. These institutions shelter more than 10,000 old people with limited means, children with special needs who are indigent or have very limited financial means.

Our volunteers have visited the above-mentioned institutions and have ascertained their needs. We supply them once or twice a week with whatever products we have gathered at the organization.
The entrance and exit of the products from the warehouse is recorded in detail. The multinational company of Auditors “Deloitte and Touche” controls for free the management of the organization and we thank them very much.

I would also like to refer in brief to the activities of 2000in the two Banks in Athens and in Thessaloniki.

We received donations amounting to 727 tons of a value of 591 million drachmas. There was an increase of 20%, that is.

Having studied the Food Banks in the other EU countries, we believe that 5-6 Food Banks can be set up in the large Greek cities.

It is quite easy.

The following are needed to set up a Food Bank in Greek cities with a population of 150,000 inhabitants.
Firstly, they must ask for the permission of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. It will be easy because they will follow in our footsteps.

Secondly, they need one or more persons for the setting up of the Food Bank. They also need a small warehouse 100-120 m2 where the food and other donations will be gathered.

They need an office, a phone and a person for five days a week for five hours. An additional person is needed for one or two hours per week who will keep an inventory of the products entering and leaving the warehouse. It is necessary to find volunteers who will help with the various tasks of the organization.
This will also be easy if the priest of the parish will say a few words after the end of the Liturgy on the aims of the organization. More volunteers than actually needed will present themselves.

What is really needed though is for those interested to take the Organization seriously, to love it with all their heart. They should feel satisfaction for the blessed work they are offering our fellow human beings who hardships.

We hope there will be people who will be interested in the setting up of a Food Bank.
They don’t have to be experts. The President of the Confederation of Food Banks in Paris, Mr. Dondrel *** is an ex-bank employee.

Our Director, Mr. Dionyssopoulos, is an ex-military man.

Whoever is interested can always rely on the people of the Food Bank in Athens for information, explanations and can even stay with us for some days to learn the procedures and functions of the organization.

The Board of Directors of the Food Bank Organization is grateful to and thanks very much all the donors, the volunteers, and the municipal veterinarians without whose help no Food Bank could exist. It wishes all of them and their families both personal and professional prosperity.

In conclusion, I would like to quote the words of Mother Teresa (recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize): “What bothers me greatly is not the fact that there are rich and poor. It’s the waste”.

TRAPEZA TROFIMON