The Swiss enlargement contribution finances a support fund for non-governmental organisations (NGO Funds) in 11 new EU member states. The purpose of these funds is to promote and strengthen the participation of civil society in the socioeconomic development of the respective countries.
According to statistics, every fifth Lithuanian is considered poor or being under the risk of poverty, while at the same time statistics also reveals that 581 000 tons of food are being wasted there on yearly bases, part of that (about 1/3) being perfectly edible.
This is where a Lithuanian non-profit organisation has stepped in. The Lithuanian Food Bank (established 1996) has set a target to fight poverty simultaneusly fighting food waste. In the implementation of their project, the Lithuanian Food Bank also cooperates with the Swiss Foundation „Schweizer Tafel”. Involving a Swiss partner in projects enables the NGO to benefit from Swiss expertise. Switzerland also benefits from the cooperation as via the Lithuanian Food Bank „Schweizer Tafel” has become member of the European Foundation of Food Banks (FEBA) and in April 2014 will for the first time participate in the FEBA meeting and General Assembly in Lyon.
At the moment there is a staff of 15 employed persons working full time in the Lithuanian Food Bank, and more than 400 volunteers. In 2013 alone about 3000 tons of food were distributed (an average 8.2 tons per day) to 200 000 people at least once a year, and to about 60 000 people at least once per month – mostly to unemployed people, single mothers, big families, elderly, disabled people, children in day care centres and foster families. Most of the food comes from food producers and retailers, part - donated by the Lithuanian society, and part – from an EU special program.
Apart from daily work in collecting and distributing food, the NGO is involved in a public campaign against food waste, aiming to reach at least 1 million via billboards, leaflets distributed to schools, canteens and charities. Messages to stop wasting food have been exhibited on household waste containers and a trolley-bus. The target of this campaign is general public. The goal of it - to raise awareness and intolerance to food waste.
In Lithuania 97 sub-projects are being implemented under the NGO Fund, with the total amount of Swiss contribution of CHF 5.6 million. Switzerland is focused on providing financial support to projects not only with short term results but ones with sustainable results therefore a key goal of the NGO Fund is that the projects implemented should leave behind NGOs that have their voice in decision-making especially when it comes to socially less protected groups.
More on the NGO Fund.