Yes, you read that title correctly…this article is about celebrating the last 12 months!
Don’t get us wrong: this has been hands down the most challenging 12 months ever. But as this lunar year draws to a close, and we mark one year since Covid hit Hong Kong, we have so much we are grateful for, so much we have been inspired by, and so much we look forward to building on in the year ahead.
So, on that note, in no particular order, here are our favourite things about the Year of the Rat.
- Creative fundraisers
You climbed Everest, cycled to Wuhan while in quarantine, ran marathons, walked for hours on end, hosted bake sales and yoga classes, organised read-a-thons, recorded albums and published children’s books – all to ensure those most impacted by the pandemic were not forgotten. You showed us that with a little imagination and creativity – and a lot of enthusiasm – it doesn’t matter where you are or what age you are, everybody can make a difference. Those HK$5 donations rolled in and as a result the matching number of meals rolled out of the FHK Foodbank.
In the last 12 months, we have handled more food than ever before but also faced bottlenecks like never before. There were days where every inch of our warehouse was blocked up with pallets, others when we had more deliveries to make than than trucks or drivers. In stepped our amazing community partners Goodman and Kerry Logistics to help with temporary storage and transportation support. We couldn’t have done it without you and are so grateful for your continued partnership and support.
- (Physical) helping hands
It was a year in which going virtual became the norm. However, Foodbanking is not a work from home job. Food needs to be physically collected, sorted, packed and delivered. With corporate volunteering (understandably) grinding to a halt, we needed to find another way to keep sorting those pallets. We added new hygiene protocols, reduced group sizes, and in stepped a handful of incredible individual volunteers…that rapidly grew into a passionate community of people eager to give back. A special mention to HandsonHK, Social Career and Time Auction who helped share our calls to action and direct helping hands our way.
- Emergency Food Boxes
Our mission is to bridge the gap between hunger and food waste. We do this by collecting surplus stock from food companies and redistributing it to charities who feed those in need. Our surplus donations can help charities stretch food budgets, add variety and support more people. But surplus is unpredictable and as the severity of the pandemic gathered pace, we took stock of how we could even out the ups and downs. FHK Emergency was the result – a programme to source, pack and deliver emergency 2-week food boxes to help our frontline charities. Each box contains key shelf stable foods sufficient to provide 42 meals. Additional surplus food donations are added as available. It started as a 3-month initiative; we now see it as a 2-year necessity. This programme wouldn’t have been possible without the financial support of our corporate partners, including Bank of America, Barings Private Equity Asia, Bank of America, Citi, Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley, the Peninsula under Hong Kong & Shanghai Hotel Group, Suen Chi Sun Charitable Foundation, and many more.
- Food Matters
February was a scary month. Overnight, our regular channels of food, volunteers and distribution were all thrown into disarray – and so too was our fundraising. And yet it quickly became evident that the need for stable food assistance had never been more vital. In stepped our long-time volunteer Robert to help us launch a monthly giving campaign “Food Matters”. The call to action was simple: for as little as HK$15 – half the cost of a regular coffee – you can support 3 meals a day for those most in need. And you responded. You helped us keep our warehouse open, trucks on the road and food assistance flowing to those that needed help the most. Thank you to everyone who supported – and continue to support – with a monthly donation. Every dollar truly makes a difference.
- Team spirit
We’ve had our highs and our lows, our stresses and sleepless nights, but consistent throughout has been the dedication of the FHK team and determination to keep feeding Hong Kong. From jumping in vans and on packing lines, to embracing additional hygiene protocols and getting to grips with A-B teams, we’ve doubled down and worked double time to keep food moving to where it was needed. We’re ever so proud and thankful to work in such a passionate team, and to have each other’s support and encouragement.
- Words of thanks from our Charity Network
We’ve received heartfelt letters, cards, phone calls, emails and texts. Not to mention cakes, cookies, flowers and so many more generous gestures. We’ve loved every single one of them but cannot accept the thanks alone – they are for you as well – our food donors, funders, volunteers and every single one of you who’ve helped us these past 12 months.
- Our Frontline Charity Partners
Speaking of our frontline charity partners- we are thankful to be working with a network of close to 150 frontline charity partners, who act as a conduit, connecting our food deliveries with their end beneficiaries across all 18 districts of Hong Kong. We have worked closely together, adapting to ever-changing circumstances, and the passion, dedication, and professionalism of our charity network consistently impressed and inspired us to do more. Thank you for your partnership!
- Our incredible interns
This has been a tough year to be student which is why this last year’s cohort of interns deserve a very special mention. From supporting with food sourcing research and outreach, and designing and translating eDMs to supporting our annual charity survey and helping with deliveries and warehouse shifts, you’ve been incredible.
We’ve updated our website, automated dashboards and reports, and started the ball rolling on a series of exciting projects to improve our volunteer registration, direct pick-ups and inventory management systems. None of this would be possible without the amazing support of our tech guru Tom Raggett, the fantastic folk at Salesforce and the hard work of three of our team – Mandy, Carol and Edmond – who are leading the charge of continuous improvement at FHK.
- Our F&B friends
They say adversity brings out the best in people. We’ve seen this time and time over these past 12 months and no more so than with our F&B partners. From distributors with backlogged stock going above and beyond to donate, to restaurants helping to cook and deliver meals directly to our frontline charities, to others setting up fundraising campaigns and hosting food drive community collection points. The commitment to reducing waste and feeding those in need has been unparalleled. Over 160 food companies helped us in one form or another last year. They span size, location and supply chain such as Angliss, Black Sheep Group, Cathay Pacific Catering, FrieslandCampina, Meraki Hospitality, La Rotisserie, Nosh, PizzaExpress and Pret a Manger to name but a few. Thank you to each and every one of our F&B friends.
If you are reading this email, it means at some point you have supported us – you’ve volunteered, coordinated a food drive, made a financial donation, donated surplus from your company or distributed food through your charity. We’ve only made it through this year because of you. We’ve only made a difference because of you. Thank you.