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In Brazil, the NGO “Banco de Alimentos” has set up a new donating experience.

Matthieu JOLLY
3 minutes

Reverse Delivery : the new solidarity network

Using Reverse Delivery, the NGO “Banco de Alimentos” is creating a network of solidarities by converting buyers of home delivered meals into food donators.


Since 2016, « Banco de Alimentos », the Brazilian food bank has set-up, in Sao Paolo, an original way of collecting donations: Reverse Delivery.

The idea came from a simple observation: each day, thousands of people get restaurant prepared meals delivered to their doors. Once the food has been dropped off, the delivery boy drives back to the departure point with an empty bag. Why not use this space to collect food donations?

When the clients call to place an order, the restaurant which is a partner of the NGO, asks the customers if they has any food that are willing to donate.


The delivery boy then picks-up the products and brings them back to the restaurant. The food is collected, packaged and then distributed by “Banco de Alimentos” in order to help the 14 million Brazilians in need.


As stated by Luciana Quintão, president and founder of “Banco de Alimentos”, the goal of Reverse Delivery is to bring together a network of solidarity & mutual aide for the poor and disadvantaged by giving a different meaning to consumption.


The idea has been all the more successful because the service meets the client’s expectations: speedy and simple, no time is wasted.


Deliveroo, Just Eat, Foodora, Grubhub, Foodpanda or even UberEATS…Over the past ten years, home delivery food services have increased all over the planet. However, this type of service isn’t new.

Since the end of the 19th century, the Mumbai “dabbawalas” go from door to door collecting homemade meals prepared by housewives.

Tiffin food boxes (dabbawallahs) waiting delivery
Tiffin food boxes (dabbawallahs) waiting delivery

The dishes are then carried to their husband’s workplace. Once the meal is finished, the lunch box does the same trip but the other way round. Every day, around 200 000 boxes are collected and delivered.


The system is so well thought out that delays are counted in seconds. The delivery errors are practically nonexistent: one in 16 million transactions. An amazing achievement using absolutely no modern technology!

Dabbawalas sorting tiffin lunch boxes before delivery in front of Churchgate railway station.

(Dabbawalas sorting tiffin lunch boxes before delivery in front of Churchgate railway station.)

Even during the Uberization of the economy, the “dabbawalas” aren’t threatened… Between tradition and operational excellence, the strong and sustainable relationship built with the clients makes this service a true institution.


This is the sort of unique relationship that all economic agents are looking for, especially when it comes to start-ups and other new platforms that are often scrutinized. This is why, “Banco de Alimentos’” initiative has created an interesting trail of thought to seduce consumers and engage them in the brand. Is it just coincidence if, in South African after the floods that hut Johannesburg, Uber offered to help residents of Cape Town, Knysna & Plettenberg Bay, by appealing to the generosity of helpers ? Using the app, people could order a vehicle to come and collect donations at their home for them to later be handed out to those in need. With the slogan “Let’s get together to help those in need!” Uber seems to want to redeem itself using the #uberCommunity operation.

Although the victims won’t be complaining, will it be enough to create a sustainable and positive brand image? Thus, in a highly connected world, bringing together energy and solidarity to help those in need is now necessary more than ever; the fact that organizations benefit from this isn’t the main issue.

Matthieu JOLLY
Facing with the changes in retail, today's innovations help Matthew to think about tomorrow's relationship between the brand and the consumer.
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