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Colombia food bank calls for ‘heroes’ to serve those in need

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Bogotá, Colombia, May 14, 2019 / 04:28 pm (CNA).- A major food bank in Bogota, Colombia, is calling for local people and organizations to partner with them as they serve hundreds of thousands of at-risk people in the area.

“It’s important for the people to be well fed, and have a culture of good habits, [and to] accompany the poorest so their children can go to school, and for the older adults to be placed in jobs,” said Fr. Daniel Saldarriaga, executive director of the Archdiocesan Food Bank of Bogota, Colombia.

The Bogota Food Bank is a completely self-sustaining foundation that began in 2001 with the goal of responding to Pope John Paul II’s call in the Apostolic Letter “Novo Millenio Ineunte.”

The bank has a group of 126 collaborators that serve as “a bridge” that joins them to the most needy, and allows them to reach more than 313,000 people in at-risk conditions in Bogota.

This food bank is currently serving more than 61,000 children, 22,000 young people, 24,000 adults, 10,000 elderly and 47,000 families.

Speaking with ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language sister agency, Saldarriaga said there is a need for more community involvement to continue meeting the needs of those served by the food bank, including children and the elderly, the sick, and those with disabilities.

The food bank has launched a new campaign, asking individuals and organizations to donate food, toiletries, personal hygiene products, as well as other items and services which are allocated and distributed to the NGOs registered with the bank.

To receive this support, the NGOs must demonstrate that they work with a vulnerable population to provide food or other material assistance.

Saldarriaga said the campaign is inviting people to “be heroes” by alleviating the suffering of their neighbors.

For example, the priest said, a hero is someone who “instead of throwing away products they were unable to sell, delivers them to be sent to organizations where they can improve living conditions and vulnerable situations.

“In our country, we only manage to utilize two-thirds of what we produce, harvest or market, the rest is wasted. That’s why in Colombia we are contributing to the number of people suffering from hunger,” he said. 

In addition to providing food for the poor, the Bogota food bank is working to create a culture of sound and healthy nutrition and fight the culture of begging.

“It’s not right that we’re making beggars. We need to alleviate hunger and fight poverty. Otherwise, we’ll go on doing works that seem very interesting, but don’t have the positive effect of our truly bringing dignity to the quality of life of the people that most need it,” Saldarriaga stressed.

The priest also emphasized the importance of working with young people. They must have opportunities that allow them to “have the dream of preparing themselves for the workplace and engaging in the economy,” he said.

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