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Hunger problems growing in Portugal

By: Cecília Pires

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A GROWING number of Portuguese people have acute food needs, with estimates putting the number in the Algarve at around 10,000 families.

The largest concentration is in the Faro area, with official figures showing 1,330 families, including 410 children, in need. The numbers, however, are growing and expanding say authorities.

With this is mind, the Banco Alimentar Contra a Fome (BAA), Portugal’s food bank network, opened a new branch and warehouse at Faro earlier this month and is expecting to open two more in the region.

Food distribution

Adriano Pimpão, the president of BAA, told The Resident that the figure of 10,000 families in the whole Algarve region is an estimate based on social security numbers. However, he said, due to the economic crises affecting the country and the growing financial constraints on many families, this number will undoubtedly increase.

Adriano Pimpão said he was delighted at the way things worked out in its first official campaign to collect and distribute food over the weekend of May 5 and 6.

More than 1,000 volunteers, most of them young people, helped deliver some of the food collected by BAA during this first initiative to five organisations in Faro.

“And there were plenty of goods,” said Adriano Pimpão. “We collected 78.5 tonnes of food, from places in an area that stretched from Tavira to Lagos and involved 43 supermarkets.”

The rest will be distributed at a later date, following up on a specific plan of deliveries with the 45 local social support organisations identified in the region.

The BAA, said Adriano Pimpão, wants to capture the public’s attention and to urge people to be more “participative and have a helping attitude”, in an effort to counter a growing social indifference all over the world.

The main suppliers to the BAA  are the big companies producing and distributing food and related goods.

The food bank project was founded in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, in 1966 and brought to Portugal in 1992.

More responsible

“Basically, companies throw away tonnes of food just to keep prices up in the market,” the BAA president said. In his opinion, this way, companies act in “a more responsible way” and they like to cooperate. The European Union, because of its exceeding productions, is also a big supplier for the Food Bank in several European countries.

Adriano Pimpão has a degree in Economics. He was asked to lead the BAA based on his past experience with charity projects. Born in Lisbon, he has lived in the Algarve since 1986 and teaches Economics at Faculdade de Economia, in Algarve’s University.

To become a volunteer for Banco Alimentar do Algarve, call 969 395 788 or send an email to [email protected]

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