On the 1st of July 2018 FoodCloud Hubs became a member of the European Food Banks Federation. We are very pleased to welcome them, and we want to know more about what they are doing, what challenges they are facing and what means being a FEBA member for them. Aoibheann O’Brien, CEO of FoodCloud Hubs, answered to our questions.
Can you tell us, in some words, what is FoodCloud Hubs, how it was born and how it works?
“FoodCloud Hubs was established in 2012 as Bia Food Initiative. We opened our first warehouse in Cork, Ireland in July 2014 and received significant support from the food industry, charity sector and the government. With the success of the Cork pilot and the understanding that to achieve our vision we needed to scale our operations nationally, we opened two further depots in Dublin (December 2015) and Galway (January 2016).
Our solution includes 30,000 sq ft of storage capacity, full maintenance of the cold chain through temperature controlled vehicles and storage areas and a customised IT system that ensures full traceability of every product with detailed sustainability reporting.
FoodCloud, also established in 2012, works at a retail level to match retailers with surplus food directly with charities that can use it through a technology platform. In October 2016, Bia Food Initiative and FoodCloud joined forces to create a shared brand with the aim of creating an end to end solution for surplus food redistribution from farm right through to stores.”
What are the main challenges that your organization is facing? What are your goals for the future?
“Food redistribution has not been practiced widely in Ireland by the food industry. Engaging and encouraging manufacturers and producers to work with us takes a lot of time and energy and we hope that being members of FEBA will help us learn how other members tackled this challenge to increase the amount of food that we can rescue and redistribute.
Our vision for the future is to create a solution for food redistribution in Ireland from farm to store level using smart technology, systems and processes. We want to collaborate with other organisations internationally, to share best practice, work together and to create a world where no good food goes to waste.”
Why was it important for you to become a member of the European Food Banks Federation (FEBA)?
“Becoming a member of FEBA is a huge honour for all the team at FoodCloud Hubs. We are eager to learn from all of the other members and also share what we have created, especially around our technology, to help to achieve our collective vision to reduce the amount of food that is wasted.
As we are a partner organisation for the delivery of FEAD in Ireland we also look forward to working with other FEBA members to shape the future of FEAD in a way that results in maximum impact for the beneficiaries across Europe.”
Now that you are a member of FEBA, what has changed or is still changing for you?
“The biggest change is how easy it is for us to engage, learn from and work with other FEBA members to improve what we are doing. We recently attended our first FEBA conference and saw how well all the members work together to achieve the same goals in different countries, specifically in relation to FEAD in that case. We are really excited to see that collaboration grow into the future.”
What are you expecting from being a member of FEBA in the future?
“We are expecting lots of partnership, collaboration and friendship with FEBA members from across Europe. We are also looking forward to learning more about how the EU works and how it can support our work in Ireland but also how we can support EU initiatives in relation to food waste, the circular economy and supporting the most vulnerable in our communities.”