Food banks in the EU eight examples

Graham Charles Lear
8 min readMay 12, 2022


The usual culprits that is the Labour party along with their groupies the media are now banging on about UK Foodbanks making it seem we are the only country to have them.

Yet every country in Europe has a form of Foodbank and every EU country in the EU has them even little Cyprus and Malta

All across the world, there are 80 countries that have them including the US that network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries

These are just eight examples of them in EU countries


In 1993 the first foodbank (“Tafel”) was founded in Berlin. In the past 20 years, the number of food banks in Germany has grown to more than 1,000, as shown in Figure 1 below. Now, over 50,000 volunteers across Germany are involved with the collection of wasted food from supermarkets, which is then offered to the poor by local organisations. In the past 20 years foodbanks in Germany have been able to extend the range of their users considerably, and now provide more than 1.5 million people (from children to senior citizens) with food.

Figure 1 — Growth in the number of foodbanks in Germany, 1993–2013

In 2022 the demand for food from the German foodbank has risen dramatically. Demand for the service, which provides free groceries for those in need, began rising last December but has sharply increased since February this year as the cost-of-living crisis began to hit.

Since March, demand has risen even further as inflation reached a forty-year high of 7.3 per cent and more and more families who have fled the war in Ukraine are also turning to food banks for help. The food banks in big cities, in particular, are seeing more demand for their services, according to the Federal Association of Food Banks. In Berlin, for example, they report lots of new customers from Ukraine.

But the rise in demand is happening all over the country. Wolfram Schreiner, the managing director of the food bank in Kusel in Rhineland-Palatinate — a town with less than 5,000 inhabitants — recently told Taggeschau that more than 100 new customers have used their foodbank in the last eight weeks.


In total, around 3.5 million people rely on food banks in France. One provider, the Banque Alimentaire has over 100 branches in France, serving 200 million meals a year to 1.85 million people.

The French food bank’s ethos is “L’aide alimentaire, porte d’entrée vers l’inclusion” which translates to “Food aid, a gateway to inclusion” Established in 1984 in Paris, the food banks were founded on principles that still govern the daily life of the 79 Food Banks and 29 branches: free, sharing, donation, the fight against food waste, volunteering and sponsorship. Kellogg’s is one of Frances's biggest donors. Kellogg and ANDES first collaborated in 2019 on a project that set out to ensure vulnerable children in France had access to a healthy breakfast. Within the first year of this partnership, 170 breakfast workshops were organised in solidarity grocery stores and 20,000 kits were made available to families in need.


The Belgian Federation of Food Banks is a coordinating body representing a national network of 9 regional food banks. These 9 Food Banks are responsible for the logistical redistribution of food products to 618 local member associations

In 2019, Belgium’s regional food banks and charities helped over 400,000 people. However, starting from March 2020, the number of people in need of food increased by over 15% compared to the year before,

Belgian food bank volunteers © Belgian Federation of Food Banks, 2020
Food distribution at Belgian food bank © Belgian Federation of Food Banks, 2020


Food banks (voedselbanken) are a relatively new concept in the Netherlands, with the first food bank only opening in 2002. By the end of December 2005, there were more than 40 food banks open across the country after a sharp increase in the number of people looking for support

A food bank in Amsterdam. Photo: Pascal Maramis

The number of people in the Netherlands turning to food banks for help rose 7.2% last year, the national organisation said on Wednesday. The Netherlands has 171 food banks nationwide, which helped 160,500 people with free groceries last year. The biggest increase in clients was in Noord-Holland province and Rotterdam, and the organisation expects a further increase in 2021. The government supported food banks to the tune of €4m last year, a donation which it made because of the expected surge in demand due to coronavirus. However, most of the cash has so far not been used — because food banks rely on donations from shops and restaurants.

Significant growth of food bank customers — 160,500 people provided with food aid

The number of customers of the food bank has risen sharply in the past year, The number of households in the Netherlands receiving food aid increased by to 37,311 households. This is more than 93,000 people. The number of children receiving food banks up to the age of 17 rose by 9.3% even faster to 36,858 children.

However, there is a culture of shame in the Netherlands

Campaign to overcome shame

Unfortunately, the number of people who are unable to buy enough food and who are regularly hungry is much larger than the group that the food bank is currently helping. Shame is still the most frequently cited reason for not knocking on the door for food aid. That is why Food Banks in the Netherlands are working hard on the ‘Nothing to be ashamed


In Sweden, there is a private initiative that has functions like a food bank (Allwin), but not the status a national food bank

ICA works with charity organisations in all its markets to donate food in various ways.

ICA Sweden has a central agreement with the Salvation Army and several local partnerships with charities to donate food from ICA’s warehouses that cannot be sold in stores because it is short-dated or has damaged packaging, even though the food itself is fully edible.


Since 1989 the Fondazione Banco Alimentare Onlus has been collecting the production surplus of the food supply chain, and by means of its network of 21 organizations spread all over the country, it has been redistributing it to over 8.898 charitable organizations that assist the poor and the needy all over Italy. The Banco Alimentare Network collects foodstuffs which are still perfectly edible but, having lost their commercial value, would be destined for destruction. These foodstuffs are saved from waste, recover their value and become a richness for those who have too little. The main supplying sources of the Banco Alimentare Network are the food industry, organized large-scale retail trade, and collective catering service. Besides, a relevant amount of food products are granted by European Union within a specific programme of helping the poor.

The Food Bank Network works 365 days a year.

In a typical year, they are donated

42.000 tons from the European Union
- 12.125 tons from the food industry
- 3.221 tons of fruit and vegetables
- 5.171 tons from distribution
- 309 tons from catering service.

In addition, they collect 9.828 tons of food from private donations

Besides the daily activity of recovering food surplus and distributing it to the poorest in our country, every year on the last Saturday of November the Fondazione Banco Alimentare organizes the National Food Collection Day. Since 1997 this appointment has become an important moment, involving civil society and raising awareness about the problem of food poverty thanks to concrete and free gesture of sharing: to buy food for those who need it. During this day, a large network of supermarkets is involved in the whole country. Everyone can give a part of his shopping in order to answer the need of those who live in poverty.


Madrid, 17th December 2020. Throughout 2020, DIA has distributed 2.5 million kilos of products between 54 Spanish Food Banks, in order to feed the households of the most vulnerable families and fulfil its goal of being closer to society every day. In doing this, the company has doubled its donations compared to the year before

The figure includes deliveries from the DIA warehouses (more than 500,000 kilos), the Great Food Collection (2 million kilos) and the “DIA Contributes 2020” programme which the company set up in April to try to mitigate the negative effects of the pandemic on the vulnerable population, in the form of several virtual collections on its online store (56,800 kilos), one-off donations (18,000 kilos) and “Kilo Operations” in stores (more than 1,200 kilos).

The Food Bank of Madrid is a non-profit charity organization whose purpose is to collect free food to distribute it, also free of charge, among charities dedicated to the assistance and direct care of people in need within the Community of Madrid.

The Food Bank is a member of the Spanish Federation of Food Banks (FESBAL) , which currently groups 54 Food Banks from all over Spain, and through it to the European Federation of Food Banks (FEBA) , which includes 271 Food Banks across Europe.

Founded on September 1st, 1994, the Food Bank of Madrid was registered and approved on September 15th, 1994 by the Government Delegation of Madrid, with Provincial Registry number 14,713, and registered in the Registry of Social Action Entities and Social Services of the Community of Madrid with the number E 1318.

It was registered in the Registry of Foundations of the Community of Madrid with personal sheet number 237 in volume XXVII, sheets 101 to 116, dated September 12th, 2000, and CIF (Fiscal identification code) G-82698614.


The Food Bank was created in Portugal in 1991. Currently, there are 21 Food Banks in the areas of Abrantes, Algarve, Aveiro, Beja, Braga, Castelo Branco, Coimbra, Cova da Beira, Évora, Leiria-Fátima, Lisbon, Madeira, Zona West, Portalegre, Porto, São Miguel, Santarém, Setúbal, Terceira, Viana do Castelo and Viseu

150,000 families have no money for food: Food Bank boss says: “I’ve never seen this level of brutality

Over 150,000 families — comprising around 600,000 people — have been forced to the point where they are now appealing to charitable organisations for food.

Say sources at Caritas (Catholic church charity), the Banco Alimentar Contra Fome (Food Bank against Hunger) and other institutions, desperate requests for help have snowballed during the weeks in Portugal

One in every 10 families has seen at least one earner lose his/ her income, with 4% of households seeing two earners lose their income (which in most cases is the only form of sustenance within the family group).

Of those continuing to work, three in every 10 are working from home — and reporting issues with concentration and efficiency.



Graham Charles Lear

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.