Expertise that food banks can bank on

December 03, 2014

In the European Union, some 55 million people are living in a situation of severe material deprivation. At the same time, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that almost a third of the world’s consumable food is wasted every year.* Clearly Food banks in Europe have their work cut out for them.

The European Federation of Food Banks (FEBA), which represents 256 food banks in 21 countries across Europe, acknowledged that the level of expertise and know-how varied throughout their network. How could they help the food banks become more professional and process-driven to cope with the increasing demand on their service? They called on Cargill for help.

Cargill responded by funding a training program that aims to increase the skills and knowledge of food bank managers across Europe. In addition to financially supporting the program, Cargill employees have stepped forward to devise and deliver key aspects of the training.

This is the first time a program of this size and scale has been delivered to Pan European food banks, helping to professionalize processes, share best practices and identify critical gaps in knowledge.

Recently, Elise Demarthe, local food safety lead for Cargill’s Grain and Oilseed business in France, and Patricia Souccar, Quality Engineer and Hygienist for Cargill Starches and Sweeteners Europe, spent two days with 13 food bank managers from eight countries to discuss a range of topics from food safety, food alert management, hygiene practices, traceability and document management. These two employees bought Cargill’s food safety and quality expertise to the table.

Feedback shows that the participants appreciated the “balance of theory and practices,” but more importantly, the examples of documentation that they could put into practice in their own food banks.

Speaking on behalf of FEBA, Patrick Alix said “The quality of Cargill’s contributions and the exchanges its people held with participants was highly appreciated. Clearly, involving Cargill, a major player in the food industry, marks a major contribution to our program.”

*Based on EUROSTAT-data from 2006, updated by the results of various national studies and extrapolations, the Bio Intelligence Service (BIOIS) estimates the amount of food waste across EU-27 to be around 89 million tons, corresponding to 181 kg per capita and year on average.