More people requiring aid than Estonian foodbank can provide

Toidupank food donation deposit box.
Toidupank food donation deposit box. Source: ERR

The number of families in need of food donations is growing faster than the Estonian Foodbank (Toidupank) can help and the figure has increased by a third in 2020.

The food bank accepts donations of food and money and surplus produce which is viable but unsellable from supermarkets. On Friday, a campaign launched to try and encourage people to donate when they shop.

Last year, 7,200 people a week on average received help from the Foodbank but now around 10,000 people per week are asking for donations. However, the amount of food donated or rescued has not grown at the same rate. If fewer people visit stores due to the coronavirus restrictions less food is also likely to be donated.

Indrek Kaing, a volunteer at the Foodbank, speaking to ETV's "Aktuaalne kaamera" on Friday discussed the type of person who uses a food bank. He said a comparable situation was seen during the emergency situation to after the financial crisis in 2010.

"In reality, these beneficiaries include people from completely ordinary middle-class families where one family member may have lost their job but whose family responsibilities are now higher than their income," Kaing said.

It is also useful if people donate money to the Foodbank if they do not want to give food, he said.

"In this case, we can make large-scale purchases from producers on favorable terms and cover the difference that we currently lack. We can then combine the saved food with the additional food purchased," he said. 

The Foodbank works in co-operation with local governments, and a weekly list of those in need is provided. The idea is to help people get back on track and people should not feel ashamed to ask for help, Kaing said.

The Foodbank recommends donating items such as long-lasting or "best before" type food products, such as canned food, cooking oil, canned soups, dry good such as pasta or rice, breakfast cereals and porridge, as well as jams, juices, nuts, raisins and healthy sweets.

Last year, 1.87 million kilograms of food was distributed across Estonia.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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