Since the start of the pandemic, food banks have faced rising demand and an increased number of aid recipients. To do its bit, GBH has established a nationwide partnership to facilitate the shipment of containers to three French overseas territories, including Réunion Island. Mascareignes food bank and a delegation from GBH took joint delivery on Réunion Island of a first container holding over nine tonnes of products in particular demand.
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, food banks have had to cope with growing demand, just like the Banque Alimentaire des Mascareignes, which saw its stock become greatly depleted during the first lockdown. So it launched an appeal for help. GBH extended this appeal and set up a partnership to fund the shipment of containers to ensure this aid initiative would carry on for the benefit of the most needy. After signing a national partnership in January, the first container of the most in-demand products recently arrived on Réunion Island. This saw items such as baby food and tinned fish handed out by the local Mascareignes food bank network. Along with Guadeloupe and Martinique, this is the third overseas territory to benefit from this wide-scale partnership and it is the first time that the food banks network has received such huge support.
Rising demand and critical stock levels
Since the pandemic hit, associative partners of the three food banks on Guadeloupe, Martinique and Réunion Island are facing growing demand of emergency food aid both from people in need as well as many CCAS (local social action aid centres) which now require food bank services.
The number of recipients across all territories has now grown to over 106,000, an increase of 41% since 2019, while the volume of aid handed out has gone up by 550 tonnes, a 45% rise.
The increased demand from all three food banks has had a direct strain on their stock since the beginning of the pandemic. There is now a shortage of food staples. Residual stock of products from the European Union is only enough to supply food parcels for just a few more weeks.
FFBA and GBH: two committed organisations
To cope with the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic, the FFBA (French food banks federation) and GBH are putting in place a long-term and large-scale partnership to step up the aid given to the three overseas food banks.
GBH has earmarked logistical resources and funds to make available its container loading bays and ensure the supply of cargo to Guadeloupe, Martinique and Réunion Island:
- GBH will finance the transportation of food items in several containers a year thus affording the food banks access to its container packing platforms in mainland France.
- The FFBA will call on the support of its 76 food banks in France and its regular donors to step up coordination of emergency supplies.
The volume of goods transported to the three overseas territories will therefore increase by a considerable amount each year.
The first shipment was carried out on 26 February 2022, bringing over 75 tonnes of additional food cargo (staples including tinned fish, pasta, jars of baby food, cereal, lentils, milk and tinned meat). This equates to over 150,000 additional meals to be distributed between partner associations.
GBH, through its Carrefour subsidiaries in Martinique, Guadeloupe and Réunion Island, has donated over 778 tonnes of food to food banks, the equivalent of over 1.5 million meals handed out every three years. GBH’s Carrefour subsidiaries have worked alongside the local food banks for several years to secure the donation of food items and continue their aid actions to local organisations.
‘We are delighted with this wide-scale agreement with GBH. This is the first time that our network has received support from all three overseas territories at the same time. This means we will be able to do much more to improve our supply of food products in these territories and support our entire network across the entire overseas region,” explains Claude Baland, President of the FFBA.
While Rodolphe Hayot, Executive Officer of GBH, says: “We are very much aware of the insecurity that exists in the departments where we operate. We felt it important for our group to make further efforts to support aid actions in these territories and in particular those aimed at food banks. We wanted to provide assistance to the overseas food banks at the national level by offering our logistics facilities to transport free of charge additional food products to Martinique, Guadeloupe and Réunion Island.”
Caption for above photo: Camille Dagorne Sub-Prefect with responsibility for social cohesion; Eglantine Victorine, Departmental Counsellor; Dominique Virama, elected official for associations at Saint-Paul municipality; President of beneficiary associations on Réunion Island; Bruno Prochasson, President of Banques Alimentaires des Mascareignes; Michel Lapeyre, General Director for GBH, Indian Ocean and Africa Region.