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Solidarity table

Food waste of the retail sector is saved by a community and either redistributed to people with limited financial resources, or processed into a dinner that is shared among the community. Such a 'solidarity table' gives people with a migrant background, low income and those without a fixed place of residence, work or social welfare the opportunity to access food and a community. In addition, educational workshops on food cultivation, composting and beekeeping are offered by a few initiatives in their urban gardens.[1]

Aim and innovation

Through recovery, processing and redistribution, unwanted food waste and poverty in cities are being counteracted. Through the distribution and joint consumption of food, the food security of people in economic distress is strengthened. By providing free meals to people without verification of their income, origin or other documents, or with a 'pay as you feel' approach, this concept also counteracts social isolation among people with few financial resources. People (who may themselves live in precarious conditions) are engaged as volunteers to help with the preparation of the food packages, the collection of the food waste and the communal cooking (partly in mobile field kitchens)[2] This integration strategy should promote horizontal solidarity, emancipation from one's own situation and active citizen participation.

 

Examples

Collectactif - Belgium[6], Collectmet (and Palletactif, veloactif, Cuisine du monde pour tous le monde) - Belgium[7], Pervolarides - Greece[8], Agroecopolis - Greece[9], Ethos - Greece, The Real Junk Food Project Brighton - United Kingdom[10], Tunceli, Ovacik – Turkey

 

Category

consumption, waste and recycling

 

Actors

migrants, volunteers, food retailers, suppliers

 

State of development

These initiatives are spreading above all in urban regions, where this multiple crisis is to be noticed first. They are particularly relevant where public systems fail to provide sufficient access to food for isolated people. If the initiatives were to continue to grow, food waste could also be curbed. For example, in Thessaloniki, where Pervolarides has set up such an initiative, an estimated 10 tons of unwanted food was recycled in 2018.[5]           

 

Sustainability potential

Ecological

  • resource efficiency in production and consumption
  • promotion of regional, closed nutrient cycles

Economic

  • poverty reduction
  • increase of food security
  • promotion of the recycling economy
  • creation of transparency along the value chain

Social

  • health: access to healthy food
  • participation
  • social justice
  • awareness / education for sustainable nutrition

Risks / disadvantages

The niche offers a solution for the reduction of food losses through their continued use, but it does not address its causes, namely the prevention of food waste in the first place. By ensuring the demand of the wasted food products, this niche is accompanied by the risk that food will continue to be excessively produced and disposed of.

The niche combines several potentials for sustainability. In addition to the ecological and economic goals, in social aspects it especially supports the reduction of suffering and symptoms experienced by the beneficiaries. However, the niche does not directly tackle the source of the prevailing problem situations experienced by migrants as well as low-income and socially isolated people. These social issues must be improved through legislation, as well as through increased provision of social institutions and subsidies by the State. There is a risk that this civic engagement will be taken for granted, and thereby the pressure for necessary changes to the pivotal factors mentioned above could diminish.


[1] Agroecopolis (2018): Cooking together for all.https://www.agroecopolis.org/cooking-together-for-all/ (20.02.2020)

[2] Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen (2017): Cuisine du monde pour tout le monde.  https://www.gastvrijegemeente.be/initiatieven/cuisine-du-monde-pour-tout-le-monde (20.02.2020)

[3] Bundeszentrum für Ernährung (n.d.): Lebensmittelverschwendung.  https://www.bzfe.de/inhalt/lebensmittelverschwendung-1868.html (20.02.2020)

[4] Haack, M., Engelhardt, H., Gascoigne, C., Schrode, A., Fienitz, M. & Meyer-Ohlendorf, L. (2020): Sozial-ökologische Transformation des Ernährungssystems: Nischen des Ernährungssystems. German Environment Agency, Dessau-Roßlau.

[5] Pervolarides (2018): Pervolarides Activties Dokument. Pervolarides of Thessaloniki.

[6] Le collectactif (n.d.). https://www.collectactif.com/ (20.02.2020)

[7] COLLECTMET (n.d.). https://www.facebook.com/collectmet/ (20.02.2020)

[8]Περβολάρηδες Θεσσαλονίκης-Pervolarides of Thessaloniki (n.d.).  https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Community/Περβολάρηδες-Θεσσαλονίκης-Pervolarides-of-Thessaloniki-1519674164926145/ (20.02.2020)

[9] Agroecopolis (n.d.). https://www.agroecopolis.org/ (20.02.2020)

[10] The Real Junk Food Project Brighton (n.d.). http://www.realjunkfoodbrighton.co.uk/ (20.02.2020)