- Title: EGYPT: Food bank attempts to ease hunger
- Date: 2nd September 2009
- Summary: CAIRO, EGYPT (RECENT) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF TRUCKS BEING LOADED WITH FOOD BOXES (2 SHOTS) VARIOUS OF VOLUNTEERS PREPARING BOXES (4 SHOTS) VARIOUS OF PACKING MACHINES VARIOUS OF PREPARED PRODUCTS VARIOUS OF VOLUNTEERS FILLING BOXES (4 SHOTS) (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) VOLUNTEER NOUR SHORAB SAYING: "It is not wrong for people to go on holidays and travel to the coast and do that sort of stuff, but we as youths should play a part in our society. We must offer something to the place where we live, to our country. So we take part in something small, we volunteer somewhere, in a big association like the Food Bank which helps a lot of families and they really need our help. If I were to sit at home I would not be able to help such people, I would not deserve to stay in this country where I'm eating, drinking, and living. So I should have a role, however small, to do anything to help my country."
- Embargoed: 17th September 2009 13:00
- Location: Egypt
- Country: Egypt
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA7NI1B4J12LMRSWB4C90V51Y7S
- Story Text: Many Egyptians have opted to perform their Ramadan acts of goodwill this year through making food donations to a charity which attempts to reach the most needy in Egyptian society.
The Egyptian Food Bank (EFB), a non-profit project, relies on an army of young volunteers who work hard to ensure many of the poor in Egypt have food on their plates. This is especially the case during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan when family and friends traditionally break the daily fast with lavish group meals.
Set up in 2002, the charity was largely unknown until thrust into the limelight by a TV ad campaign this year, helping it bring in sponsorship deals from Egyptian businesses and a vast amount of donations from the public. The Food Bank's 5,000 volunteers have given up their summer break to work for the charity, daily packaging thousands of food boxes that go out to some of the poorest communities in Egypt.
EFB Volunteer Nour Shorab considers such community work patriotic.
"It is not wrong for people to go on holidays and travel to the coast and do that sort of stuff, but we as youths should play a part in our society," says Shorab said.
"We must offer something to the place where we live, to our country. So we take part in something small, we volunteer somewhere, in a big association like the Food Bank which helps a lot of families and they really need our help. If I were to sit at home I would not be able to help such people, I would not deserve to stay in this country where I'm eating, drinking, and living. So I should have a role, however small, to do anything to help my country," she adds.
The EFB says it is not only keen on putting food on plates but on insuring that the food is nutritionally balanced, giving much thought to what goes into each food box.
"The boxes include 12 food products. There is rice, sugar, tea, sauces, oil, also dried apricots imported from Syria, dates, salt, Macaroni, kidney beans, string beans, all sorts of food products chosen in a scientific way to provide carbohydrates and proteins. It includes all the foodstuffs needed for Ramadan so we are not depriving people of anything. It is a box containing everything they need and it's full of nutritional products," says EFB's executive manager Reda Sokkar.
Egypt is one of the most populated countries in the Middle East. In 2006, the total population was estimated at over 74 million. The Egyptian government says poverty is on the decrease in the country, but the World Bank estimates there are 10 million Egyptians still living in poverty.
The EFB's output doubled in 2009 from the previous year to reach 500,000 boxes of food. The charity delivers food boxes to around half a million of Egypt's poorest residents in 28 different governorates. Although many still do not benefit from the charity's services, the EFB says it's main goal is to end food poverty in Egypt by 2025.
EFB's Executive manager, Reda Sokkar is optimistic about achieving their goal even before their set target
"We, the Egyptian Food Bank, are focusing on Egypt, to provide for poor people in Egypt. We have a strategic plan to end hunger in Egypt by 2025. God willing and with the help of Egyptian businessmen and donations from Egyptian citizens, we hope to achieve our goal before 2025," he said.
Work at the EFB packing warehouse in Sixth of October City in Cairo intensifies in the build up to and throughout the holy month of Ramadan. The charity is aiming to keep its work flowing throughout the year, not only to achieve its aim of eradicating hunger in Egypt buy also to tackling poverty in the wider Arab region.
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