France and Portugal: “Stop Food Waste – Feed All People.” Will You Be the Next One?
With regard to the recent changes in the French law, we want not only to shake hands of local law makers tackling the issue of food waste but also give more attention to this problem, and thus ways to solve it.
To prevent the wastage the waste hierarchy concept was introduced into European waste policy for the first time in 1975. The newest five-step waste hierarchy from 2008 is presented in European Union’s Waste Framework Directive and includes notions of disposal, recovery, recycling, reuse and prevention. The last―prevention―is on the top of given framework as it is considered to be the most efficient one. The best example of this utopian action is the current case of France where the state’s government just forbade supermarkets to throw away and spoil unsold food and as well made them sign a donation deal with charities.
But even if the country you live in is yet not ready for such radical changes, it does not mean we are helpless in reducing the local food waste. The second step proposed by EU is reuse, which could be applied to any stage of food usage: from mass production to households. In Porto, Portugal, our team visited ReFood ― an organisation that is carried out only through initiative volunteers and kind donations of municipality, private sector companies or simple individuals.
At first it was a one-man mission when the founder Hunter Halder collected leftover food from restaurants around the city and set off on his bicycle to redistribute it to those in need. It quickly escalated to a big movement and is continuously spreading around the country. From the start in 2011 when the idea has evolved into a fully-fledged organisation helping to tackle food waste and hunger not only in Portugal but also in Spain, Italy, England and Argentina.
Each local team has more than 100 people working to coordinate the programme, collecting the food donations from across the city, sorting and redistributing them. The organisation also holds events to provide an opportunity for the wider community to learn about the project and to become involved with fundraising. Through this spirit of collaboration, in their fight against food waste and hunger ReFood is also helping to combat social exclusion and to increase community solidarity.
ReFood has already arrived in Foz do Douro and is helping to feed 30 families there. In October, after learning about the problems of hunger and food waste as part of a week dedicated to the eradication of poverty, pupils at school of Monfortinhose de Real decided to show their support for the project in Maia. They constructed and filled a fridge with beautifully drawn foods, emulating the solidarity fridges that have started to appear on streets across Europe.Together with parents and relatives they raised an impressive donation of 675 Euros.
The answer to question what motivated one of the volunteers at ReFood in Foz, Ricardo Martins, to join the project was fast and firm: “If there is a chance that I can help those who need it even a little, it is more than enough reasonable for me.” Finally, it seems that with a bit of inspiration, dedication and wish, each of us is powerful enough to implement positive changes in our local communities. If you would like to support ReFood, or even set up a team in your area, then do not hesitate to contact them!