The seventh annual Gran Recogida, the massive annual collection for foodbanks, is soon upon us and will be taking place in supermarkets across the region on 30 November and 1 December.
The collection in the province of Malaga is organised by the foodbank Bancosol, and the event coincides with collections all over Spain, organised by the foodbank federation.
Malaga hosted the official presentation of the campaign at an event in the Andalusian central government delegate's office on Wednesday, attended by Francisco Fernández España, provincial delegate of the Junta de Andalucía; Raúl Jiménez, deputy mayor of Malaga; Jacob Hachuel, representative from the autonomous city of Ceuta; and the president of the Food Federation of Andalucía, Ceuta and Melilla, Pedro Mariscal. In total, it is hoped that 2,700 tonnes of food can be collected across Andalucía, Ceuta and Melilla in order to exceed last year's record.
In the province of Malaga, the challenge is to collect 600 tonnes of food in more than 300 establishments to bring a dish to the table to 45,000 people with limited resources.
To this end, 4,000 volunteers are needed in Malaga.
Action still necessary
The financial crisis may be officially over, but poverty is still a part of everyday Spanish life. The major challenge that faces Bancosol today is convincing the general public that such action is still necessary.
"That is the feeling that we are constantly trying to fight against," says Bancosol president Joaquín Jiménez. "In 2008, we served 24,000 people. Now we have a list of 45,000 beneficiaries so that shows we have not returned to pre-crisis levels. That's why I think the Gran Recogida is more important than ever now. There are still many people who are having a hard time."
The focus of this year's collection will be different to previous years, said Jiménez. "We are going to ask for milk, oil and pre-made meals that don't need to be kept refrigerated."
Having collected an abundance of rice and pasta over recent editions, "we hope to cover the needs of the organisations we serve", he says. That means ready-made products that are high in quality.
That said, "everything is welcome... except money. In the past when people have wanted to give money, we have used it to buy food".
Volunteers still needed
An additional challenge is finding the 4,000 volunteers necessary to staff the posts in the supermarkets. "We still need volunteers in the Churriana, Fuengirola, Mijas and Torrox Costa areas," says Mari Carmen Chamizo, leader of the Gran Recogida campaign in Malaga and the Costa del Sol.
To publicise the campaign and to attract volunteers, this year Bancosol has once again prepared posters and leaflets in French, English and German, aimed mainly at the coastal areas with the largest foreign-resident populations.
Volunteers who speak foreign languages are especially wanted in order to spread the message of the campaign and explain to shoppers how it works.
This year, Antonio Banderas joins the Unicaja Foundation in support of the event and his image is being used to encourage people to take part.
Organisers of the Gran Recogida want age to be no barrier and are encouraging everyone to take part, from school children to retirees, and foreign residents are welcome.