Mask donation


Local parishes in the Tampere area organize food and other types of aid to those in need. The aid is delivered to properties owned by Evangelical Lutheran church, or it can be collected from the Puoti pick-up point. During the past pandemic year, there have been requests for not only food but also protective masks. Intermedius, a supplier of nonwoven fabric for domestic protective equipment manufacturers, donated 10,000 face masks to be distributed along with food aid.

– I read in the local news about the operations of the Tampere parishes’ food bank. I contacted them and it turned out that there is major demand not only for food but also for various hygiene products. This is how we got the idea to donate protective masks to be distributed with the food aid, says Jari Honko, CEO of Intermedius.

The food bank’s pick-up point is the first of its kind in Finland

Ilkka Hjerppe is the Director of Diaconia and Social Responsibility in the Evangelical Lutheran church in Tampere. He has been involved in the development of the parishes’ coordinated aid services for 20 years.

– The system was created during the recession of the 1990s. The basis was in EU support channeled through the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, which continues to this day. It consists mainly of dry food, such as flour and macaroni, which unfortunately is not the best option for everyone, he says.

According to Hjerppe, the Tampere City Council launched five years ago an initiative to regionally coordinate the collection and distribution of discarded food. Now the activities are carried out in cooperation with the City of Tampere. The food bank has a distribution network that includes 50 different smaller partners in addition to Finnish Red Cross.

Food bank donors include food industry and retail chains, as well as individual retail stores and private people. During the past year, food supplies from restaurants closed because of the pandemic and school meals that would have otherwise been wasted, have also been donated for aid purposes.

The food bank’s pick-up point – called Puoti – is the first of its kind in Finland. The shop is akin to a store, and the deacons give access to it for those in need. What is special about this arrangement is that the clients are not given a traditional pre-collected bag, but they can personally choose the products they really need.

– Coronavirus brought new kinds of customers to the food aid lines. In the Tampere region, the number of clients increased by 20–30 %.  Of course, traditional food bags are still distributed, but through deacons it is possible to get a voucher for Puoti where, for example, hygiene products are also available, Hjerppe says.

– We have previously received masks from the city, but the donation by Intermedius is an important addition to the aid, Hjerppe says.