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Massive ‘Gran Recapte’ food drive kicks off with record volunteer participation

In Girona, a Red Cross psychiatric aid program for the homeless is implemented in time for the cold snap

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01 December 2017 03:14 PM

by

ACN | Barcelona

As the weather gets cold every year, helping those in need becomes more urgent than ever. Indeed, two initiatives have been put forth to do just that: the massive Gran Recapte food drive throughout the country, and a new Red Cross mental health program to help those on the street, in the northern Catalan town of Girona.

‘Gran Recapte’ aims to hit last year’s 4,300 tons of food

Catalonia’s holiday food drive, the Gran Recapte, kicked off early today with a record 27,000 volunteers. It began right as markets and supermarkets opened their doors to shoppers, with 2,700 drop-off points throughout the country. The initiative aims to hit last year’s numbers, when 4,300 tons of food was collected, with 1.5 million people donated food to 210,000 beneficiaries

A food bank volunteer for the Gran Recapte sorts donated food, on December 1 2017 (by Laura Fíguls)

“We want to help those in need. We bought some milk. It’s not enough, but little by little the pile gets bigger,” said Rosa and Jose, who went food shopping this Friday at the Marina Market in Barcelona. The items that are most useful to the Food Bank are oil, milk, and canned vegetables and fish, as they have a long shelf life and offer basic, much-needed nutrients.

  • “We want to help those in need. We bought some milk. It’s not enough, but little by little the pile gets bigger”

    Rosa · Food shopper and donator at the ‘Gran Recapte’ 

Organized by the Catalonia Food Bank, the initiative is carried out by 27,000 volunteers, a record number – even considering how many signed up at the last minute, this year. Indeed, a minimum of 25,000 people is required to man the 2,700 drop off points, open from Friday until Saturday December 2.

The Gran Recapte is no small feat. To store all the food, the Food Bank utilizes a warehouse with loading docks 250 trailers that truck all the donations back and forth for two days. And after much searching, the team found their main hub: a 2,000-meter squared warehouse in Barcelona. In the warehouse, there will be three distribution lines, with around 1,000 people working each day in shift groups of 250.

The director of the Food Bank, Lluís Fatjó, shed some light on just who the recipients of the food will be. He explained that many of the families are newly poverty-stricken, with members who can’t find stable or well-paid work, or who suffer from limitations or disabilities. He added that despite the economy going better, there is still severe poverty, affecting 4% of the Catalan population. Indeed, about 2% receives what is collected in the food drive. 

Helping the Girona homeless in time for the cold

As if following the calendar, the temperature has dropped for the first day of December. And now, with the cold below 10° C, helping those without shelter has become a matter of life and death.

Red Cross volunteers at a squatted warehouse in Girona on November 30 2017 (by Marina López)

In the northern Catalan town of Girona, the Red Cross has implemented a psychiatric aid program to help the homeless. Comprised of three mental health professionals – a psychiatrist, a nurse and a social worker – the team assesses the situation of those on the street and attempts to bring them to a shelter for food and warmth.  This can sometimes be “difficult,” explained the deputy mayor of Girona Eduard Berloso, as their situation is often “chronic,” often compounded by problems of mental health or addiction.  

Meanwhile, still in Girona, the Town Hall, the local police, and the Red Cross have intensified their aid services to those on the streets to counteract the cold. Indeed, one of the initiatives includes distributing hot soup, drinks, and blankets throughout the town.  In Girona, the police count 24 people living on the street, with more than 170 squatting abandoned in abandoned houses or warehouses.  

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  • Three volunteers from the food bank for the Gran Recapte at the Marina market supermarket, on December 1 2017 (by Laura Fíguls)