Food banks respond to food crisis as Russia’s war on Ukraine continues – Food Tank
As Russia’s war on Ukraine continues, food banks in Ukraine and across Europe are scrambling to provide food aid to those under siege.
The Global FoodBanking Network (GFN) recently set up an emergency response fund, which supports the European Federation of Food Banks (FEBA) and the Kyiv City Charitable Foundation Food Bank (KCCF). Together, the food banks play an essential role in the recovery and delivery of food and personal hygiene products throughout Ukraine and neighboring countries, including Hungary, Moldova, Poland and Romania.
Russia and Ukraine produce around 12% of all food calories traded globally and are among the top five exporters of several grains and oilseeds, such as wheat, barley, sunflower, corn, the Institute reports. International Food Policy Research Center (IFPRI). But because of the war in Ukraine, millions of Ukrainians could face food insecurity.
“We are facing a food shortage because many local producers have ceased their activities. This is why food aid from abroad is so important to us,” Nadiya Borysenko, founder and director of KCCF, told Food Tank.
In areas of Ukraine where fighting is active and where the number of displaced people is high, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reports a deterioration in food security. As the conflict encircles key towns, ports close and people flee, Ukrainians face difficulties in maintaining animal production, harvesting winter crops and planting spring crops, according to the FAO.
But food banks are working to respond to the acute hunger crisis. Borysenko told Food Tank that even though Kyiv-headquartered KCCF had to move its distribution warehouse due to security concerns, the organization was able to continue reaching people in need. The KCCF has redistributed more than 830 tons of humanitarian aid since the Russian invasion in late February.
“Building adequate logistics was a huge challenge for us, but we did it. The Ukrainian government has simplified the customs clearance procedure for humanitarian aid from abroad as much as possible,” Borysenko told Food Tank .
The food bank received 240 tons of products from other food banks overseas, of which 180 were distributed. KCCF also received 62 tonnes of food, water and other items from organizations in Portugal, Romania and Poland. Despite production difficulties, KCCF was able to source over 650 tons from local shops and producers, who provided water, frozen chicken, bread, fresh fruit and vegetables and baby food. . Outside Kyiv, KCCF is also delivering food to cities currently under direct fire, such as Mariupol, Kharkiv, Nizhyn and Chernihiv.
According to the second report on internal displacement in Ukraine by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Russian invasion displaced more than 7.1 million people. KCCF beneficiaries include refugees who fled to western Ukraine. Borysenko tells Food Tank that the KCCF is also working to reach civilians in orphanages, medical facilities and those who choose to stay and defend their lands in these areas.
Outside of Ukraine, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that around 5 million people have fled Ukraine to other countries in Europe. FEBA, a coalition of more than 300 food banks in more than two dozen countries across the continent, visits with its members in Ukraine, Moldova, Poland and Romania. On a recent humanitarian mission, FEBA partnered with DHL, the German courier, parcel and delivery company. They helped transport 17 tonnes of food collected from employees of SEA, the group that operates Milan’s airports, for Ukrainian refugees in Romania.
FEBA also reports that the Federacja Polskich Banków Żywności (Federation of Polish Food Banks) received more than 1,000 tonnes of food and hygiene donations for refugees arriving in the country. The Federation of Polish Food Banks has provided aid to around 250,000 refugees so far. Romanian food banks have also sent nearly 13 kilograms of food, clothing and hygiene products to the Banca de Alimente of Moldova, supporting the waves of refugees arriving from Ukraine. And in France, the FEBA, with 6,000 of its partner associations, works to welcome approximately 30,000 refugees in France, and ensures access to food aid, hygiene and medical products.
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Photo courtesy of Michel E, Unsplash