1 February 2024

Studying in the middle of the frosty winter…

At the end of a frosty, snowy and gloomy January, we went to, as it turned out, sunny Spain for a study visit. Thanks to a grant obtained from the Active Citizens Program – Regional Fund, we had the opportunity to make a study visit to the Food Bank in Madrid

A few words about our Spanish friends – the Food Bank in Madrid, which has been operating for 30 years, is the largest Food Bank in Spain. It serves the Madrid region, a community of almost seven million people. In 2023, thanks to the help of the Bank of Madrid, 540 Non-Governmental Organizations received food aid, and through them 137 124 people.
Banco de Alimentos Madrid could not operate if it were not for faithful, willing to work and committed volunteers – currently there are 390 volunteers (average age 67 years!!!). 34 employees took up regular employment at the Madrid Bank. Last year, thanks to their hard work food worth EUR 54.1 million reached people in need.

Even though our Bank does not achieve such spectacular results, and in fact we do not achieve results even close to those in Madrid, we were welcomed warmly and friendly, and the management of the Madrid Bank told us in detail about the Bank’s activities. It’s impressive – it really is. Each stage and area of the Bank’s operations in Madrid is well thought out, planned and executed. Each area of the Bank’s operations is controlled and consistent with procedures, and at the same time, all activities are carried out effectively and without unnecessary downtime.

We visited the warehouse in Colegio San Fernando, also the headquarters of the Bank – a building from the 1920s, or more precisely – a former school church and, in contrast, a huge, modern warehouse in Alcala (40 km from Madrid).

We also saw a social shop run by Fundacion Alberto y Elena Cortina – similar to our social shop, but more digitalized. We use paper referrals; in Spain they have cards and barcodes system. On the other hand, they mainly have a fixed and less diversified assortment. In our social shops, where we receive different products every day, introducing an elegant and efficient Spanish system is for now impossible… but not unlikely.

Of course, we wouldn’t forgive ourselves if we didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to visit Madrid briefly – we ate Spanish tapas, saw a bit of Madrid, and even… fought with bulls; virtually, but it also counts. For those interested, we didn’t kill the bull, but we still defeated it!

Our visit inspired us with new ideas to improve our work and, we hope, improve our services, which will bring satisfaction to our customers.

The Organization’s activities in the years 2022-2024 are co-financed by the Norwegian Funds under the Active Citizens Program – Regional Fund.


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