As most families gather cosily on their sofas each evening during the cold winter months, others who are not so fortunate, barely make ends meet, scrounging hard to gather enough resources and food. This is where ‘The Food Bank’ comes in.

A ‘food bank’ is generally an NGO-directed or charitable organisation which, through sponsors, donors and helpers, provides food and daily supplies to those who need them most. The old, the sick, the infirm, or those very poor families who are, perhaps, passing through a tough time, and who need a helping hand.

While the first food bank in the world was established in the US in 1967, the first Food Bank in Malta came into being just 3 years ago, in the Summer of 2014. It was originally planned and sanctioned by President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca who set up the Food Bank Foundation, a charitable organisation under her patronage, after visiting FairShare, a London-based NGO which supplies 12 million meals to 62,000 vulnerable persons in the UK. Later, Reverend Kim Hurst from St Andrew Scotts Church, who took over the Food Bank at Old Bakery Street in Valletta in 2014, having already worked in such organisations in the UK.

The Food Bank in Valletta operates using the so-called ‘front-line’ model, meaning that retailers, distributors, manufacturers and sponsors who wish to donate, give the products to the Food Bank, which gives out such daily needs directly to its beneficiaries. In the case of Malta, the beneficiaries are vulnerable people in need who are usually referred to the Food Bank through NGOs and agencies such as Appogg. Other countries also use the ‘warehouse’ model, whereby the role of the Food Bank is that of collecting and storing different products from different retailers, before distributing them to different smaller depots.

This project helps many people struggling through financial difficulties and indeed it was documented that in 2016, the foodbank in Malta handed out more than 800 parcels of food to more than 150 different clients. Food packs are generally financed through donations of money and food, and volunteers aid in manning the Food Bank itself.

Unfortunately, the Food Bank has been going through difficulties lately, with the Rev. Hurst reporting a lack of supplies and appealing for help. A number of campaigns were introduced to help this establishment, and these made it possible for the Food Bank to continue doing its good work.

The latest campaign is called the ‘Reverse Advent Campaign’. It is basically a twist on the usual Christmas tradition involving the advent calendar, whereby instead of receiving a sweet or a small prize from the 1st till the 24th of December, one donates a non-perishable food item to the Food Bank instead, collecting them in a box and handing them in at Christmas.

The food bank is situated at 210, Old Bakery Street, Valletta. For more information about how to help out and about the Reverse Advent Campaign, please go to thefoodbank.webs.com.