Here’s what Bancos Alimentares themselves have to say about the Food Emergency Network they have created as an immediate response to the COVID-19 crisis.


The Food Emergency Network is a time-limited response during Portugal´s emergency whilst the Covid19 outbreak lasts. It has been created by foodbanks supported by a number of social solidarity institutions, parish councils and other entities that can provide help. It aims to bring food and support to those of low economic resources that cannot afford the cost of food and other basics in these difficult times.

Recent measures taken by the Portuguese government, although crucial to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus, it also causes extreme difficulties and even desperate situations for poor and underprivileged people in general. It is urgent that we try to protect those at risk from isolation, despair and lack of food.

On the one hand, several charities have had to close down some of their social support responses such nurseries, activity centres for children, daycare and social centres for the elderly as well as the distribution of food hampers.

On the other hand, there is also a large reduction of human resources such as technicians and auxiliaries who normally collaborate with such institutions, mostly women, who as a result of school closures are forced to stay at home to look after their own families. And it has been decreed that volunteers who normally collaborate with such institutions should avoid the risk of being contaminated or spreading the virus themselves and therefore should stay at home, so all social activities have been temporarily prohibited.

Whilst it is essential to comply with public health authorities and their recommendations to reduce the spread of the virus, it is important to continue with a food distribution network that, whilst prioritizing hygiene and safety, allows for food and other basic support to reach those of low economic resources.

Several spontaneous initiatives of solidarity between neighbours and parishes have already emerged with volunteers making themselves available to shop for the elderly and therefore avoiding the need for the most vulnerable generation to leave their homes. In this case, most are people who can bear the cost of their purchases and entrust them to a volunteer in their building or parish.

However, the following have been left without any support:

  • people who are usually supported by the Instituições Particulares de Solidariedade Social (social institutions) which have closed their doors under the current circumstances
  • people who do not have the financial capability to purchase basic food need, those whose one meal a day was consumed in the nurseries, activity centres, daycare and social centres
  • people who depend on a weekly or monthly food hamper

And in addition to this list, some are going to find themselves unemployed as a result of the current Covid-19 outbreak or with reduced working hours and income, due to needing to be at home to give their families support or maybe part of a family unit that already suffered some financial fragility.

The raison d'être of the EMERGENCY FOOD NETWORK is:

  • to develop a computer-based system of registration of needs
  • to make the connection with an IPSS or Parish Council near the residence of each person in need
  • to mobilize a body of volunteers, properly protected, who at a defined time and place, can carry out the transport of meals or products to certain points of delivery or even to the home of the weakest, reducing the number of people in circulation but ensuring the supply
  • to enlist the help of institutions, structures and other channels that already exist

Food Emergency Network:

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