On 17 February 2022, FEBA and the Fédération Française des Banques Alimentaires (FFBA) jointly organised the conference “EU solidarity through food – A comparative approach on innovative synergies to support the most deprived”. In the context of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union (1 January 2022 – 1 July 2022), the event took place in a hybrid format both in Strasbourg (France) and online. Arranged under the umbrella of the Conference on the Future of Europe, the vision has been to contribute to its objectives while providing guidance on the tackling of future challenges, as well as to exploit opportunities related to food aid for the most deprived.
In line with that, the conference brought together an array of speakers from different backgrounds but nonetheless united in their goal to tackle food insecurity and social exclusion.
The opening remarks were given by Irène Weiss (Regional Councillor, Grand Est Region, France), Constant Rebeil (President, Banque Alimentaire du Bas-Rhin, France), and Clément Beaune (Secretary of State for European Affairs, France). Afterwards, European and French national approaches in regard to the use of the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) have been compared based on interventions made by Jacques Vandenschrik (President, FEBA), Claude Baland (President, FFBA, France), Virginie Lasserre (Director General of Social Cohesion, Ministry of Solidarity and Health, France), and Sabine Thillaye (Member of Parliament, President of the European Affairs Committee of the National Assembly, France). Following a video statement by Anne Sander (Member of the European Parliament) on the importance of European social funds and Philippe Da Costa (President, Croix Rouge Française, France) on the particular use of the FEAD by the French Red Cross, a lively round table discussion took place. Together with Constant Reibel, FEBA Members representatives Piet Boerefijn (Manager, Toidupank, Estonia), Aoibheann O’Brien (Co-founder and Director of Partnerships, FoodCloud, Ireland), and Pedro Castaños Ruiz (International Relationship Manager, FESBAL, Spain) took the floor to share insights on the country-specific FEAD programmes, as well as to shed light on challenges, opportunities, and wishes for the future.
Finally, Ruth Paserman (Director, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, European Commission) and Celine Jurgensen (Ambassador and Representative of France to the FAO) delivered their concluding remarks, reiterating the importance of preventing and reducing food insecurity for the benefit of communities and vulnerable groups.