Tánaiste Announces Funding For Munster Food Initiative


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The Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton T.D. today (28th November 2014) announced the approval by her Department of the awarding of a three year contract under its Community Services Programme to fund the operation of the new Bia Food Initiative (BiaFI) facility in Little Island, Cork. The annual value of the contract is €89,000.

The new facility by BiaFI is the first of three planned nationally. The Department will also provide support for the development of two further centres in Leinster and the West during 2015. The Department of Social Protection has committed to supporting each of the centres with employment supports from the Community Services Programme.

The Tánaiste officially opened the new Bia Food Initiative (BiaFI) facility in Little Island which will provide warehousing and logistics support for the capture of surplus food nationally to be delivered through existing charities working with people in need.

BiaFI plan to be largely a self-financing operation within 3 years and is currently supported by food and agriculture sectors and by a number of national retail operators.

Speaking at the opening of the facility, the Tánaiste said "The opening of the new BiaFI facility represents a significant step in developing a national operation that allows for the twin issues of food surpluses and food poverty to be tackled".

"Bia Food is leading the way with this initiative. I am looking forward to seeing the growth of the initiative over the coming years to further combat the food scarcity issue".

BiaFI is an Irish charity, formed in June 2012, which aims to provide a socially responsible, environmentally sensitive, business friendly alternative to wasting good food. BiaFI acts as a bridge between the Food Industry and the charity sector and aims to save some of this surplus food (estimated at upwards of 50,000 tonne per year) and direct it to people in need – matching surplus with scarcity.

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Bia Food Initiative

BiaFi plans to accomplish this through the establishment of a national network of food redistribution centres. This network will capture surplus food nationally and deliver it, through existing charities nationally. BiaFi has now opened the first pilot redistribution centre in Munster with help and support from local and national businesses. They aim for it to be a self-funding and sustainable organisation within 3 years. BiaFI is a sister organisation to FoodCloud which puts local shops in contact with local charities to pick up food at the end of the trading day while Bia operates regionally at warehouse level.

In addition, it will provide charitable groups throughout the country with access to large quantities and varieties of surplus food, which will reduce their current spending on food, thus freeing up precious funds for other core activities. To date, Bia Food Initiative has received tremendous help and financial support from local and national businesses and organisations such as Tesco, Musgrave's, Cross Refrigeration, Ford Ireland, Aldi, CIT, CTC, EPA, Irelands Fund, Upton Foundation and JP McManus Fund.

BiaFi provides a one-stop-shop for food businesses to donate their surplus food and grocery products in a fast, efficient and safe way, while reducing their disposal costs and making a very positive and practical contribution to the communities in which these businesses operate. Thanks to support from public and private enterprise, we have been able to invest in the latest technology to ensure that the surplus food gets to those in need as efficiently as possible.

Community Services Programme

This Department of Social Protection Programme provides financial support to not-for-profit companies in the form of employment grants for the development and delivery of services. Currently, over 400 not-for-profit companies are supported by the Programme. The nature of the services delivered varies according to local needs. They include childcare, transport for elderly and people with disabilities, sporting and social facilities, managing and upkeep of community owned facilities, rural tourism, laundry, community radio stations, recycling and environmental projects, home care, meals on wheels.

The Department of Social Protection is responsible for overall policy and management of the Programme. Projected expenditure on the programme in 2014 is approximately €45 million.

Last modified:28/11/2014