Caritas and the Spanish Food Bank Federation (in Spanish Federación Española de Bancos de Alimentos FESBAL) are two NGOs operating in Spain that received several awards and accolades in 2013 and both received the prestigious Human Right Award from the Spanish lawyers council.
Caritas is a well-known and established organisation which is a confederation of Roman Catholic relief, development and social service organizations operating in over 200 countries. The organization works with 4 main objectives:
- Reduce the impact and risk of humanitarian crises
- Influence governments and institutions to be more accountable and to help social justice
- Eradicate extreme poverty
- Share competences and know how in order to be financially sustainable and accountable
In Spain, Caritas operates through a network of more than 6000 local associations of which 90% are volunteers ,numbering over 70,000 people. They all work to help the situation of those in vulnerable social situations. 70% of the funding comes from private donations.
Every year this organization compiles a report, the “observatorio de la realidad social” (observatory of social reality). The latest report published in October 2013 shows that people living under the threshold of poverty (i.e. an income lower than 307 € per month) increased to 3 million people which is equivalent to 6% of the population. In 2008 at the beginning of the crisis this figure was 1.5 million. The profile of the person in need of help is also changing. Previously a person in economic difficulty would first rely on the help of family and relatives then next would try to find resources in the underground economy and finally ask for social help. Now, however the economic situation means that the resources of many families are stretched to the limit making this network not always available as a the first line of help.
This can make the fall into poverty a more rapid process than before.
The Spanish Food Bank Federation
The “Federacion Española de Bancos de alimentos” (FESBAL) is a non-profit organisation with the objective of collecting food that would normally be wasted in order to be distributed to people in need. The organisation doesn’t supply it directly to people, but to other ONGs (like Caritas) that have a better understanding of the social reality and the field.
Most of the supplies that are collected by FESBAL come from companies in the food industry. In food production there is always a percentage of inventory that doesn’t pass quality tests independently of the food itself. This is mainly due to problems related to imperfections in the packaging or the labelling that make the items not suitable for distribution even though the food product is in perfect conditions. Over 3000 companies are working with FESBAL in Spain.
Other sources come from donations of private people or companies. Donations of funds from people or institutions help to maintain an infrastructure of storage plants, freezers and a transport network all over Spain.
People working for FESBAL are almost totally volunteers, typically retired professionals from the food industry.
Donations to Caritas and the FESBAL benefit from a level of tax relief equivalent to 25% of the donation from individuals or 35% if the donation comes from companies It is very important to request a certificate (the “certificado de donaciones”) from the recipient organisation, that will have to be included in the yearly tax declaration.