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The number one way to help people in the 3rd world is find hungry competent entrepreneurs in the country and ask them about their problems.

This sounds like a great approach to the problem but how would one go about finding those people? Were you thinking SME level or street vendor level?

Sounds like step one: solve the meta-problem. Be the one who finds those people, so you can inform others who want to find them.

I appreciate the issue. Having found a source of cubic meters of free fresh bread weekly, finding a charity willing & able to take it proved a significant problem. Just cataloging available/interested charities & entrepreneurs, and advertising the list, would be very helpful.

What were the difficulties in getting charities taking the bread? I mean, were they logistical problems? Were they worried about some increased risk or was it simply a case of bad admin?

Remember: I was/am dealing with 2-4 cubic meters of perishable bread once per week.

One place (public food pantry) couldn't distribute it for 3 days (good fresh artisan bread starts molding within 6 days, and pastries & baguettes stale within 3; recipients probably wouldn't eat theirs all within 2 days of receipt).

One place (women's shelter) wouldn't distribute it to the members/occupants (were teaching self-reliance, probably including making own bread). They'd sell it, making distribution 1-2 steps removed from assuring me what was actually happening to it.

Two places weren't always open when I could drop it off. Both planned and unplanned closures are problematic.

2-3 places wouldn't take it because items weren't individually packaged (I get it loose in large boxes/bags). Some kind of food safety rule applied in their case. Also, if they're not sure where it came from, they won't take it (I'm just some anonymous guy, not connected with the bakery nor charity).

Other charities don't know how long items will be in storage, so it must be packaged & shelf-stable for months/years.

By sheer chance (traffic rerouted past an accident scene) I found my current distributor, a food pantry which distributes it 12 hours after I get it. All they know is some guy shows up Monday morning with bushels of breadstuffs.

Mileage & waiting is also a problem. Takes me about an hour to pick it up, and another half hour to drop it off - most of the above taking longer, already straining the limits of my schedule.

And that doesn't get into the issues of actually handing out each individual piece, which is why I take it all somewhere for a single drop off, and don't try to hand it all out myself.

Oh, and some weeks no usable charity is open, and I end up with a ridiculous amount of bread I have no idea what to do with.

I can't speak for those charities, but I have experience with helping run an animal shelter. Some things to keep in mind with donations like this:

  * What's the bread's shelf life?
  * Will there always be X amount of bread? How much notice will the charity have if it's no longer available?
  * Will the bread be delivered, or does the charity need to find a volunteer to pick it up?
  * What are the costs of disposing of unused bread? Will the extra bread take up enough space in the dumpster to overflow and incur charges?
  * Is someone going to throw a tantrum/cause bad publicity if they find out we're not using all the bread?
  * What's the bread's nutritional content? Is it consistent?
Offers like that are always appreciated, and it means so much to know people think of the needy when an opportunity like that presents itself. But in a lot of cases it's easier and better to buy it commercially. The same things that make my Facebook friends turn up their noses at grocery store bread (preservatives, vitamin enrichment, and every loaf looking the same like it came off an assembly line) make it perfect for a charity.

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