British Embassy food bank appeal raises over half a tonne in donations

Piet Boerefijn (left) and Toidupank volunteers collecting guests' food donations at Thursday's British Embassy reception.
Piet Boerefijn (left) and Toidupank volunteers collecting guests' food donations at Thursday's British Embassy reception. Source: British Embassy in Estonia

A drive to collect donations to local initiative Toidupank ("Food bank") on Thursday evening raised over half a tonne of food for those in need.

The collection was made at a reception marking Queen Elizabeth II's birthday, held by the British Ambassador to Estonia, Theresa Bubbear, at the ambassador's residence in Tallinn.

Invited guests could bring a selection of food for donation, including canned products, honey, sugar, jam, candy and cereals, which were collected by Toidupank volunteers.

The precise weight of the food amassed came to 616 kg, Toidupank reports, from a guest list of just a few hundred.

The event came as part of a long-running cooperation between the British Embassy and Toidupank, founded in 2010 and aimed at sharing food with a wide variety of people without easy access to quality food, including produce which might otherwise be destroyed and thus go to waste.

Ambassador Bubbear said she was delighted the embassy could continue supporting Toidupank and help to contribute to the welfare of the most vulnerable in Estonian society.

"We share the same values as Toidupank and contribute to the exchange of knowledge and experience between our two countries in reducing food wastage. As well as all the food donations, Toidupank also got a great opportunity to find new contacts with the entrepreneurs and others among our guests, enlarging this 'circle of kindness'," Theresa Bubbear said.

Encouraging community-based contributions

Toidupank creator, Dutchman Piet Boerefijn, said he was grateful to the embassy for all its support, trust and effective cooperation.

"According to Statistics Estonia data, almost 300,000 people currently live in Estonia in relative poverty, meaning they have to get by on less than €523 per month. Although Toidupank is represented today at 14 locations all over Estonia, there is still a major need for infrastructure development. Our cooperation with foreign embassies helps us to achieve great contacts with Estonian entrepreneurs who can contribute to Toidupank's development, through their services, products, and voluntary work, which provides them with a real vision and sense of where their donated resources are going. Toidupank is by its very nature a classic food logistics infrastructure setup, where there is a need for virtually everything," Boerefijn said.

"The goal is not only to involve larger partners, but also even more to encourage community-based contributions which will help achieve greater and greater goals. We have many strong examples and opportunities from all areas - everyone can help as they wish. The valuable contacts gathered by the 'circle of kindness' at the Queen's Birthday Party reception on Thursday is sure to broaden the possibilities for Todiupank's further development," he added.

Toidupank has been in operation for nine years and was created during the economic crisis, when the number of people in need of food supplies increased dramatically, due to unexpected job losses, according to a Toidupank press release.

The Queen's Birthday Party is an annual reception held by the British Embassy, this year marking the 93rd birthday of the monarch. Guests included servicemen based in Estonia from the UK and other countries, and featured a flypast of an RAF Eurofighter Typhoon.

Those wishing to find out more about Toidupank can visit their website here.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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