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Italy, reduce food waste to help those in need

Innovation / -

Il magazzino di Fondazione Banco Alimentare smista le eccedenze tra le varie associazioni aderenti.

Fondazione Banco Alimentare recovers excess food and transforms it into a resource for those who need help. A system that improves food safety in Italy. With optimal results for many years.

The problem with food sustainability results from a paradox: the food for nourishing everyone is theoretically available, but a part of the population has enough while another part is malnourished. Plus, it is estimated that one third of the food produced every year is wasted. But what if someone would be able to decrease this unjust imbalance? This was the question that led to the establishment in 1989 of Fondazione Banco Alimentare Onlus (the Italian Food Bank Network Foundation), a non-profit organization located in every region and that is already present in other countries. The goal is to provide daily meals to the poor by recovering food that was not consumed. The force and effectiveness of this initiative lies in its ability to combine various aspects that concern nutrition: reducing food waste, guaranteeing food for everyone and providing healthy and well-balanced meals. This social responsibility that the Food Bank has taken on is becoming more important every day, especially if you think about the current crisis where the number of people who require help continuously increases.
Volunteers as an essential force
The strategy that has been created involves and coordinates all the actors, such as the public institutions, the for-profit companies as well as the non-profit sector. For example, the Food Bank has signed agreements with almost 1,000 producers and collects foods in the cafeterias of 130 companies and 180 schools. But it is the volunteers of this non-profit that represent the backbone of this organisation, with their support for tasks that range from packing boxes to driving the van.
Plus, one day a year Fondazione Banco Alimentare Onlus organises the "Food Collection" day: volunteers collect donations in front of grocery stores in form of food prepared by the local residents. 
One of the other activities they carry out every day is called “Siticibo”. This initiative was started in 2003 as a result of an idea from a mother to not waste the excess food at schools. This involves recovering the fresh and already cooked food from cafeterias (companies or schools) that must be consumed within 24 hours, which is then transported using equipped refrigerated vans.
Concrete help
Every year, the food collected by the Bank helps more than 9 thousand charity organisations and reaches almost 2 million people (one third of the poor in Italy, according to ISTAT - the Italian National Statistical Institute). In 2013 “Siticibo” distributed 800 thousand complete meals by collecting cooked food in companies and fruit in schools. Reducing food waste also has a positive impact on the environment because it reducing the cost of disposing of expired or unused food. For the future, the work consists in continuing to convince companies and institutions to support the Food Bank in the fight against malnutrition.

Five questions for the Food Bank Foundation. Waste can be overcome with strict procedures

Innovation / -

Un volontario del Banco Alimentare, l'anima del progetto

Via a system proven over the years plus extensive planning, there have been real results helping the most disadvantaged. The Food Bank Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to giving food a second lease of life, explains what their success is based on and what to expect in the future.

At Expo Milano 2015, visitors will be made aware of the Banco Alimentare project thanks to the video screened in Pavilion Zero. What message would you like to convey with your approach to the issue of food security?
We would like to spread the idea that reducing food waste goes through organised and planned processes. This means that good wills and attitudes materialise and become more rooted over time. Food security, in the recovery context, is difficult to manage with improvisation, generous as it may be.
What difficulties have you encountered while working on your project? How did you overcome them?
The most significant difficulty was the perplexity of potential donors of surpluses on the feasibility and destination of the recovery. This scepticism was cast away when we started working together on operational processes and when our partners saw us at work.
Since the submission date, what new results have you achieved?
Our ability to expand the recovery from large volumes of stored food to fresh and cooked food, a practice that is far more complex and detailed, but of far greater nutritional value to the recipients is ever increasing. We have been active in this for many years, but donors and volumes have also been increasing dramatically in recent months.
What developments do you expect in the long term for your idea?
On the one hand, we would to be on the cutting edge in terms of process innovations, in order to make our recovery for social purposes more efficient. For this reason we pay close attention to spontaneous local initiatives. Furthermore, we are working vigorously to help improve the regulatory and fiscal framework regarding the recovery of food.
Do you intend to replicate the project in other countries or in other contexts?
The Food Bank Foundation adheres to FEBA, the European Federation of Food Banks, that carries out very similar activities to ours in 23 European countries. We often take advantage of opportunities for exchange of experiences and opportunities for projects with them, that improve mutual learning despite the national profiles.

Over a million people are already #FoodConscious. What about you?

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