Leket Israel, the National Food Bank, hosted the founders of Bouroume (“We Can”), a virtual food bank in Athens for a two-day visit on Tuesday.

The founders were interested in learning how to establish a gleaning initiative in Greece, modeled after Leket Israel.

“When we were just starting out, we were looking for models around the world, and Leket Israel truly impressed us with their professionalism and creative initiatives to fight hunger in Israel,” said Alex Theodoridis, Boroume co-founder.

“We are so delighted to finally be able to experience Leket Israel’s work firsthand and to see how they run a truly successful countrywide gleaning program.”

Boroume pairs food donors with nonprofit agencies through their website, with the food never in their possession, developing a “virtual food bank.”

Project Leket, a gleaning initiative sends thousands of volunteers and dozens of paid pickers into fields and orchards to gather produce donated, or left unpicked, by farmers. As part of the tour, the Greek founders will visit gleaning sites, hotel venues, soup kitchens and logistics centers, and will receive full access to the Israeli model.

Gidi Kroch, Leket Israel’s CEO, told The Jerusalem Post the program “rescues” more 10,000 tons of food per year and distributes it to the needy through a network of 180 nonprofit agencies and with the help of over 50,000 volunteers.

In addition, Leket Israel runs logistics centers in Ra’anana and Nesher and operates trucks delivering fresh produce from the gleaning program to the needy throughout the country.

“This is a major operation with staff, volunteers, and logistics,” said Kroch. “Israel has the knowledge for food rescue and we are willing to share this knowledge with countries and organizations around the world.”

Many food banks from around the world have sought Leket’s expertise on how to start similar projects, with a delegation from the UK set to visit Leket Israel soon.

“Leket Israel is really looking forward to hosting Boroume’s visit as we both have a lot we can learn from each other,” said Kroch.

Serving as the country’s National Food Bank and its largest food rescue network, Leket Israel, now celebrating 10 years of operation, works to alleviate nutritional insecurity among the growing numbers of Israel’s poor.

In 2013, Leket Israel rescued over one million meals and almost 10 million kilos of produce and perishable goods, and supplies more than 1.35 million volunteer- prepared sandwiches to poor children (7,800/school day).

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