Moving Boundaries

Neighbourhood Assistance in Times of Crisis

In 2020, an outlier year in every way, tales of solidarity and working together have been many and varied. METRO was involved in one such story that played out on an island in the Indian Ocean.

2020. Coronavirus has brought the world to a standstill even in the French department of Réunion. Restaurants and hotels cannot receive any guests and shops have been cleared out by panic-buying. At its location in Le Port in the northwest of the island, Pro à Pro – a METRO delivery specialist  for the French market – received an emergency call from Défi Plastik, a non-profit organisation that monitors plastic pollution in the Indian Ocean: the village of Mafate needed urgent help!

Because of its location in a volcanic crater, Mafate can only be reached by helicopter or by a 2-day trek. The lockdown, which has affected even this distant outpost of the European Union, has made it almost impossible for the 185 families in the village to get food supplies. At the same time, the Pro à Pro FSD depot is well stocked with food with no-one to buy it because the island’s restaurants and hotels are closed.

La Reunion: Neighbourhood Assistance in Times of Crisis

From the warehouse across the island

Suddenly everything happened at once. Within a week, the Pro à Pro team put together food parcels and collaborated with Défi Plastik to bring them by helicopter to Mafate. Thanks to this effort, non-perishables like rice, flour and tins as well as fresh fruit and vegetables found their way to 185 families.

‘It was not the decision of one individual to help but a matter of course for the entire team to mobilise all of our resources and to help where help was needed,’ says Loїc Bohan, Director for DOM [French Overseas Departments] and Direct Export at Pro à Pro. ‘From the pickers in the depot  to the delivery drivers, everyone worked together to make this neighbourhood assistance possible.’

With 70 employees, Pro à Pro is the main supplier to hotels and the hospitality industry on the French island of Réunion; the FSD depot  in Le Port stretches over 4,500m². Since 2016, the METRO delivery specialist has been working more intensively to support the economy and the environment on the island with its 850,000 inhabitants. For example, Pro à Pro has supported the establishment of solidarity food shops, similar in concept to foodbanks ; there are currently 6 on the 2,512m² island. Pro à Pro also works actively for the environment, providing food for the teams on Défi Plastik boat expeditions. These regularly set out to sea where they measure and document the plastic pollution in the Indian Ocean.
La Reunion: Neighbours help each other.

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