Introducing an Exciting Innovation – Virtual Foodbanking

FoodBank SA has taken sourcing and collecting of food to a virtual level in a bid to increase its reach and distribute even more food to hungry South Africans.

In January this year FoodBank SA introduced an exciting new concept called ‘Virtual Foodbanking’ (VFB), whereby FoodBank SA links its Beneficiary Organisations (BOs) to the closest participating retail store (and soon hotels and restaurants) to collect perishable and non-perishable foods, which in turn is used to feed thousands of people daily.

Previously, FoodBank SA’s vehicles went from store to store, collecting the food, bringing this food back to our various warehouses, sorting the food, and then distributing the food to the various BOs. VFB has made possible significant cost-savings, and ensures that the food reaches the BOs fresher.

How Virtual Foodbanking works? 

FoodBank SA’s VFB retail partner, Pick n Pay, donates all their store excess goods that is still good for human consumption. This excess food is set aside in the receiving / dispatch area at each store.

An authorised FoodBank SA BO or BOs then collects the food each day, signs for the food received, and sends the weight and food category information to FoodBank SA on a weekly basis. This info is then used by FoodBank SA to draw reports.

The Benefits of Virtual foodbanking:

  • It eliminates the need for a physical infrastructure like a warehouse and vehicles to
    do foodbanking, bringing down our overhead costs.
  • It removes the need for extra handling, reduces spoilage and ensures that this valuable
    nutritious food reaches those in need, sooner.
  • It allows FoodBank SA to scale the operation nationally, and have a presence in outlying,
    remote or even rural areas, provided there are retail stores.
  • The model can accommodate the inclusion of hotels and restaurants.

FoodBank SA is in discussions with other large retailers with the view to further extend its outlying reach in the next 6 months, as well as the rural reach within a year, depending on the level of participation from retail stores.

The model does require some labour intensity to monitor, but over time the introduction of technology will allow for more efficient systems and processes, which will ultimately mean a broader reach and more South Africans fed.