Food banks are part of a humanitarian aid network across Europe and Czech civic associations are gradually developing this form of aid for the poor here in the Czech Republic as well. After Prague and Ostrava which are only able to cover their own needs, the town of Litoměrice has launched a food bank for the whole north Bohemian region.
The Litoměrice food bank only opened this week and the first consignment of canned beans, tinned soup and pudding is already in storage donated from supermarkets in neighbouring Germany for which this form of aid is a common practice. Supermarkets and small grocers in the north Bohemian region are only beginning to respond to appeals from the bank’s employees and charities who are helping to launch the venture. Up until now soup kitchens, orphanages and homeless centres had to turn to the Czech capital for assistance and more often than not the Prague food bank was unable to fulfill its own needs. Now the Litoměrice bank will have its own rations to share out and the head of the project Aleš Slavíček says the locals are not deaf to the appeals:
“We have already been contacted by a number of supermarket chains in the region who have expressed willingness to help by donating food that is nearing its sell-by date. They have also agreed to set up special containers into which individuals can contribute as well. Maybe just throw an extra can into their cart and we will make sure it gets to the people who need it.”
Aleš Slavíček, photo: the town of Litoměřice
Direct food donations from people are not a common practice except in the event of natural disasters such as floods and the organizers are waiting to see what the response will be. In any case the Litoměrice food bank is hoping to collect close to a hundred tons of food this year from supermarkets and small grocers which will improve the quality of life not only for the homeless but for old-age homes and children’s orphanages which often operate on an extremely tight budget. Where food is not in short supply –saving on some things will leave more money for other basic necessities. Even now it is clear demand will be greater than supply – already 24 institutions in the region have asked to be put on the list of beneficiaries.