Foodsharing’s third birthday wish is for a change to the law
As non-profit and volunteer-run organisation Foodsharing Luxembourg turns three, it reinforces its long-term goal to have laws tackling food waste, whilst continuing to encourage businesses, restaurants, schools, supermarkets and individuals to do all they can to cut down of food waste.
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation about 900 million people worldwide are hungry whilst a billion are overfed.
An area larger than the size of China is used to grow food that is never eaten, and the annual value of the 1.3 trillion tons of food wasted (a third of food produced globally each year), is US$ 1 trillion.
Food waste canteen
Officially founded in August 2019 by seven members, Foodsharing Luxembourg now has more than 545 volunteers and three Foodsharing Points (in the city, Esch-sur-Alzette and Lintgen) where public refrigerators can be used to leave and take food. It also operates distribution days (in Beaufort, Dahlem/Garnich, Dudelange and Junglinster), where food collected from supermarkets is given away on a first-come, first-served basis.
Foodsharing’s very first initiative was to use food waste from several farms to offer food at a climate demonstration. Since then it has developed 107 collaborations with food businesses, is supported by a number of municipalities, and has a partnership with Frères des Hommes.
“The most successful of our projects to date, is the one on food saving. Our volunteers pick up food ... that would be thrown away but which is still edible from businesses we cooperate with,” Says Daniel Waxweiler from the group, adding: “In three years we went from one to 85 [businesses we work with] and we have some 320 volunteers on this project.”
The Distribution Days have the second-largest number of volunteers. More recently, the organisation has started working with restaurants to give feedback on food quantities for businesses. Currently restaurants contribute 5,250 tons of food waste in Luxembourg each year. Since its inception, Foodsharing Luxembourg has rescued more than 300 tons of food.
“We are still reliant on volunteers and the capacity of our members,” says Waxweiler, citing that Foodsharing Luxembourg relies on a participatory organisational structure. “If you want to start a Foodsharing Point or Distribution Day in your area, you can attend an information meeting and get together with like-minded people in your area.”
Volunteer Hannah Proffitt-Perchard explains that Foodsharing Luxembourg does not want to enter into competition with other charities, and that the problem of food waste is too huge to only focus on giving excess to people in need. “We don’t want to make people dependent on a broken system,” she says.
Instead, Foodsharing Luxembourg is calling for laws that that would dramatically reduce the current amount of food waste, which stands at a third of food produced. “Other countries like the Czech Republic, France, Italy, Spain and the UK have already put laws in place. In the latter country, Morrisons supermarket has already removed the use-by date on milk and yoghurts, encouraging people to use the sniff test instead,” says Proffitt-Perchard.
She also points out that reducing food waste is the number one solution to climate crisis according to Project DrawDown, more so than electric cars, solar power or plant-based diets.
How to reduce food waste?
- Allow customers to order smaller portions or share a meal.
- Encourage customers to bring a container to takeaway leftovers or even charge for leftovers, particularly at all-you-can-eat buffets.
- Publicise your food waste reductions and donate what you can’t use to Foodsharing Luxembourg.
- Educate customers that they cannot expect all items at all times (which can mean cafes and restaurants are encouraged to waste food).
- Allow customers to customise the amount of food they buy and raise awareness of “best before” and “use by” dates.
- Use better inventory control and sales forecasting.
- Promote regional and seasonal food, and encourage food producers to harvest all crops to avoid food loss.
- Tell customers which food your supermarket wastes most to encourage them to accept different standards. For example, people want fresh bread, but if it is baked throughout the day it may result in the excess production of loaves.
- Sell imperfect items at a discount, and donate food you cannot sell to Foodsharing Luxembourg.
- Keep a record of food waste from events and adjust quantities next time.
- Provide in-house training on food waste, including keeping an eye on what’s in the office fridge. If there’s any ripe fruit in a shared office basket on Friday, make sure to take it home to eat at the weekend.
- Donate excess food to Foodsharing Luxembourg.
- Plan your meals and grocery shop and use a list.
- Don’t be tempted by discounts, and don’t shop when you are hungry.
- Buy loose items instead of pre-packed.
- Store items correctly and use older items first.
- Audit what you are wasting (is it mostly salad) and purchase accordingly.
Getting creative with leftovers
- Freeze or preserve what you won’t use in reusable containers – you can freeze bread or bananas.
- Use your senses to test best before dates (use by dates means food is no longer safe).
- Use wilted vegetables in soups or compost them for your garden. You can eat vegetables unpeeled or use the peel for something else such as potato crisps or apple peel tea.
- Find your local Foodsharing Point and donate food that is still good but you will not use (especially if you’re about to go on holiday).
Reducing food waste in schools
- Empower students to organise food saving events and activities, and run workshops to raise awareness.
- Educate children on the difference between “best before” and “use by” dates.
- Play before lunch to build an appetite, and increase the time children have to eat. Offer rather than serve food in smaller portions but allow students to ask for second helpings.
- Allow students to pre-order meals.