Fighting hunger by cutting food waste

Worldwide, we waste around 1.3 billion tonnes of food a year, while nearly a billion people go hungry. An EU-funded project has created an online community to tackle the problem by sharing knowledge and redistributing food.

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Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czech Republic
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  French Polynesia
  Georgia


 

Published: 22 November 2017  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
Agriculture & food
Research policyHorizon 2020
Countries involved in the project described in the article
Belgium  |  Greece  |  Hungary  |  United Kingdom
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Fighting hunger by cutting food waste

Illustration of four people holding a saving food signs

© XYZ Productions

Food waste has a big environmental impact. When we waste food, we waste the resources used to produce it, including land, water and energy. Producing 1 kg of beef requires 15 000 litres of water, so using, rather than wasting, food would boost sustainability.

Annual food waste in Europe amounts to an average of 173kg per person and costs the economy about EUR 143 billion. At the same time, 122 million Europeans are at risk of poverty or social exclusion.

The EU-funded SavingFood project is highlighting this issue among various groups to encourage them to act. It is creating an online platform using open source tools connected to a social networking environment to support redistribution of surplus food to people in need.

The project also seeks to create a social movement dedicated to reducing waste and fighting hunger, with the aim of engaging everyone with a role to play, from the general public to shops, restaurants, farmers, charities and policymakers. It supports knowledge creation and discussion to make people aware of the need to work together and live sustainably.

“SavingFood empowers citizens to take collective action,” explains project coordinator Eirini Kalemaki of ViLabs in Greece. “Empowerment and community participation are central to mobilising people’s creativity and creating synergies. We leverage the power of social networks to create strong neighbourhood ties, cultivate the feeling of belonging to an active community and foster grassroots processes. This contributes to a more sustainable society.”

Connecting donors and recipients

Three main activities take place via the platform. The first is the creation of links enabling donors, such as restaurants and shops, to offer surplus food to recipients like charities. The second relates to the organisation and promotion of gleaning and farmers’ market events at which farmers make unsold produce available to charities. The third concerns educating people on spotting places where food might be wasted and getting them to inform SavingFood so that the project can take action.

Through SavingFood, anyone with surplus food or crops can donate it to organisations that help those in need and reduce the cost of waste disposal. This has the added benefit of keeping food out of landfills.

Most food redistribution currently takes place via food banks using a warehouse model with high transport and storage bills. SavingFood relieves them of this burden. Recipients of the donations, such as migrant shelters, also benefit. Meanwhile, the money saved on food can be used for other things.

Changing habits

The key to SavingFood’s success is getting people to change their habits and avoid food waste. To this end, the platform is designed to be adaptable for use by other groups with similar aims.

“Our mission is to offer an open source platform that can easily be adopted by organisations fighting food waste. In our consortium, three partners will benefit by using it to become more effective, increase their reach and maximise their impact,” says Kalemaki. “In addition, the platform and the engagement strategy that accompanies it will become available to other communities interested in taking action to save surplus food.”

Project details

  • Project acronym: SavingFood
  • Participants: Greece (Coordinator), Belgium, Hungary, United Kingdom
  • Project N°: 688221
  • Total costs: € 1 191 697
  • EU contribution: € 1 191 697
  • Duration: January 2016 to December 2017

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