The Spanish Federation of Food Banks has been named this year's recipient of the Prince of Asturias Award for Concord for its efforts to ease people's suffering amid the Iberian nation's lengthy economic downturn.
In its minutes, the jury said the federation, known as FESBAL, was an "exponent of an international effort of solidarity to alleviate some of the most pressing needs of the population, currently made worse by the economic crisis."
It noted that "the food donors and volunteers and organizations for which they act as a channel constitute crucial, generous examples of this selfless effort for others."
FESBAL beat out the other two finalists in this year's competition: the Plan international children's development organization and the International Organization of Telethons.
Thirty-four nominees from 19 countries were initially in the running for the award, the last of eight given out by the Prince of Asturias Foundation.
FESBAL, which was created in 1996, will use the entire 50,000-euro ($62,500) cash prize accompanying the award to purchase food for distribution among the most needy, federation President Jose Antonio Busto said, adding that 50,000 kilos (110,132 pounds) of food can be acquired with that money.
FESBAL's nearly 2,000 volunteers distributed a total of 104 million kilos (230 million pounds) of food to 1.3 million Spaniards in 2011.
Spain is now in recession for the second time in three years and the unemployment rate stands at nearly 25 percent overall and more than 50 percent among young people.
The concord prize recognizes people or institutions that have made a significant contribution to fostering peace, defense of human rights, freedom, solidarity, protection of patrimony and humankind's progress.
Past recipients include British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, Medicus Mundi International and Doctors Without Borders, the American Foundation for AIDS Research and the late King Hussein of Jordan.
Last year's prize for concord was bestowed on the "heroes of Fukushima," technicians at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant who worked to contain a nuclear emergency stemming from the massive earthquake and tsunami that battered northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011.
The other Asturias award winners this year included Spanish architect Rafael Moneo for achievement in the arts, American philosopher Martha Nussbaum in social sciences, Japanese video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto in communication and humanities and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in international cooperation.
British biochemist Gregory Winter and American research chemist Richard Lerner and American novelist Philip Roth were the recipients of the technical and scientific research and literature prizes, respectively.
Last week, Spanish soccer players Iker Casillas and Xavier Hernandez were named the recipients of this year's Prince of Asturias Award for Sports in recognition of their outstanding play on the field and admirable sportsmanship.
They were the first repeat winners in the 32-year history of the Prince of Asturias Awards, as both also garnered the sports prize in 2010 as members of the Spanish soccer team that won the country's first-ever World Cup that year.
In addition to the cash prize, award winners also receive a sculpture by Joan Miro that represents and symbolizes the awards, a diploma and an insignia bearing the Prince of Asturias Foundation's coat of arms.
The prizes, which Spain's crown prince will hand out at a ceremony in the fall in Oviedo, are regarded as the Ibero-American world's equivalent of the Nobels. EFE