Today, the world has 157 food banks in the public service. Now also have a “Chinese version”. It was born in Shanghai. From 2013 quietly test operation to unashamedly officially open in 2015, has recycled more than 50 tons of food was distributed to 40,000 people. However, the food bank in the actual operation of the process, also encountered large and small problems.


The first food bank in China

Compared to domestic banks for the freshness of food, the food bank already is a well-known ‘old word’ in other countries. Early in the last century, the fifties and sixties, the United States will have a food bank prototype, introduced to Europe after Canada. Originally developed by a group of enthusiastic volunteers in charity organizations of their own, the remaining food collected, distributed free to poor people starving on the streets. Later, the food bank developed into a public project, some companies will be “temporary protection food” complimentary to the public service organization, and then distributed to the poor, thus forming a food bank community projects. For decades, the food bank from scratch, and now has over 13 European countries, a total of 157.

Food banks cannot do a “Chinese version”? Early in 2012, Shanghai Oasis Ecological Conservation and Communication Center began to consider this issue. After a series surveys the staff oasis firmly determined to make the food bank. Thus, the oasis began to explore the food bank localization of operation, they are committed to “rescue” the leftover food to the needy vulnerable groups. Surplus food cannot enter the production, transportation, distribution, consumption and other aspects again, but after rigorous sorting food is still safe to use, as well as food value of these completely, but also for the poor in need of help to alleviate some of the burden.

For public institutions, there are two modes of cooperation. One is for example to serve people with disabilities, people with intellectual disabilities and other groups public institutions, these service objects are relatively poor family conditions common, food banks and agencies will direct docking, coordinated food distribution and other matters. Alternatively, for example, children with autism like service agencies, not every family conditions are so needy, so the food bank will entrust public interest advocacy organization within the organization, or recommend some particularly difficult family, so get in touch with the family’s own food bank.

From the trial point of view, the food bank open channel is very popular in this application of public institutions. To ensure that these public institutions to the issuance of food standards, food banks have developed a set of process planning and requirements, such as payment of pictures, sign table lists the specific details and so on.

The difficulties for the food bank

First of all is whether people can take the food security. In particular during the operation of the food bank, but also encountered some ideas on collision. For Chinese, we have different understanding in expiry date. In China, we feel close to the shelf life, taste worse, while in a foreign country, this date actually refers to the best taste of food first food is completely safe, and secondly there will be no blemishes on the palate. Food banks have in the community had sent the shelf life of six months from the milk. However, when distributed to poor families is the shelf life of only two to three weeks of fruit drinks, some families will be some hesitation. Faced with this situation, the differences on the concept of food should be accepted by public.

Secondly, the donor side, some companies worry about the shelf life of food donated close to undermine the corporate image, or the existence of concerns about security. Companies hope to change that notion, put food donated to food bank, to give people who are genuinely in need. Although the Food Bank do a lot of preparatory work, the biggest difficulty faced after the official business is immature business model. One of the more typical problem is that because there is no conventional fixed donors, so the food and the time they are distributed to the recipients cannot be fixed. And mature food bank business model is donated food on a regular basis, while achieving the initiative to come recipients receive food, and food choices according to their needs.

Finally, could food bank develop in whole country? The first food bank is opened in Shanghai, which is one of the most developed cities in China. The background of this city is too special that make the first food bank could only be considered as an exception. In the other cities that have more people suffer hunger and poverty in lower economic level, will face more trouble if the food bank established. Due to the lack of helpful community to support the plan, food bank seems more unrealistic. Maybe, food bank becomes a governmental item, the situation could be much better. However, for now, the governance cannot promise the current food safety issue in the whole country. So it is too soon to support a community that propagandizing to donate the expired food.