Alliances that transcend, we talk with Alicia Guevara, founder of the Quito Food Bank

Only in Ecuador food waste reaches more than 900.000 tons per year, which is equivalent to USD 334 million. Because of this, Food Banks are developed with the objective of recovering this food, on perfect conditions, and give it to the people who need it the most. As República del Cacao, we have maintained a prosperous alliance with the Quito Food Bank (QFB) since 2019, through which we have not only donated our products, but also conducted knowledge exchange projects where more companies were able to connect with the QFB. Thanks to this, its beneficiaries have been able to get support in much more ways than just food.

Our last initiative was an IG LIVE conducted by our Executive Chef, Andre López and Chef Romina Rueda from the GQB Culinary School. Children from different beneficiary foundations of the QFB watched this event and learnt how to prepare delicious cookies and desserts with the chocolate we donate them. Learn more about this digital event and our work alongside the QFB so far through this interview with their founder, Alicia Guevara.

Paulina Páez, Finance Manager, Alicia Guevara Founder QFB and Philippe Bongrain, COO
Can you please tell us about you? What inspires your life and why do you work on the Quito Food Bank?
My name is Alicia Guevara, I am the founder of the Quito Food Bank (QFB) and we have been doing this work for more than 18 years. My principal activity is teaching, I’m a professor at the “Escuela Politécnica Nacional” on the Chemical Engineer and Agroindustry Faculty, and the Quito Food Bank is a volunteering project for me. It started as a small project that has been growing fast, at the beginning we helped 200 people, and now we are able to attend more than 500.00 people from our allied foundations per month. What inspires me is the wish to help others, I think we all have not only the necessity, but also the obligation to so everything in our power to help those who need the most.

What programs does the QFB currently have and with which allies do you work?
The main objective of food banks is to fight against food waste on different levels, it can be enterprises, distribution centers and commercials. We gather all this food with the help of voluntaries, and once it is ready, we distribute it to different organizations and after this we generate reports that contain all the data of the donations we have received. We work with around 60 enterprises who make donations, weekly, monthly or yearly. Among these companies one of the most important for us is República del Cacao and we also have other companies and distributors that help us with this objective.

What are your objectives for the alliance with República del Cacao?
Chocolate is a product to which our beneficiaries, who have very few resources, don’t usually have access. But, we also know that chocolate us a product that brings joy wherever it goes, to every person that you offer a chocolate to, right after that, a smile appears on their faces, specially with children. So, to be able to give them access to a product that they can’t usually eat is very rewarding for us, and what República del Cacao does goes beyond that, you not only give us your product and forget about us, but you also develop knowledge exchange projects for our allied organizations, and with this you show them that they are important and that you want to know them and get close to them, and for us that is amazing! We are really thankful for this connection with the people that you develop, it is something that makes them realize about their importance and for us that means a lot.

What is your opinion about the initiatives that have been develop between the QFB and República del Cacao until now?
Something that I really like about República del Cacao is that it is an organization full of life, you don’t stay with just one idea, you are always looking to innovate, you look for different ways through which you can help. Last year we developed meetings and chocolate workshops, and now an IG LIVE for our organizations, it’s very helpful for us because you don’t stay always on the same thing, you are always working in more ways to help, you are always reinventing, and again we are very thankful for that.

What are some future projects for the QFB, and which projects did you develop during the pandemic?
As the Quito Food Bank during the pandemic we didn’t stop for a day, actually it gave us more visibility because people started to understand that food is a resource, and sometimes unexpected situations can happen and all of a sudden, we lose our access to it. So, during that time our main objective was to reach as much zones as we possibly could, in order to save more food and to help more people. Nowadays, we are working on opening other fronts that are not only related to food waste, for example our “ReAgro” project, which focuses on food recovering on the agriculture sector, we discovered that almost 30% of these products don’t even leave the farm, for esthetic reasons, overproduction, etc. So, our objective is to reach these zones and recover this food, and since the QFB was born from the “Escuela Politécnica Nacional”, we are currently giving the farmers technical assistance so they can also learn, and through this we impact more people.

What is your opinion about this dynamic where the children from your beneficiaries have been included?
It’s amazing! Because just by telling them that you donated us more chocolate so we could reach more people and they can learn they were very happy. They couldn’t wait to arrive to their organization and connect to this IG LIVE, they were very happy to learn, so it was a great idea.

With the objective of sharing your voice with society, what message would you like to send to our clients, chefs and allied organizations from the food sector that consume our chocolate?
First, that we can all give something to the rest. People who consume chocolate, people who work with chocolate, they can teach and inform that there is a lot of food in the world that is wasted, but that we can recover, if we work together, beginning in our homes, so we don’t generate food waste and to remember that we are blessed to have this food on our plates every day, that there are people that are not that lucky and what can be waste for us, for someone else can be the only thing they have for eating that day. So, my advice is always that wherever you are, you have the obligation to do whatever is in your hands to help and change, even if it’s just a little bit, the lives of the people who don’t have as much as we do.