Economic downturn and harsh austerity programmes are having a devastating humanitarian impact across Europe. According to the International Federation of the Red Cross report “Europe in crisis – Think Differently”, launched on the October 11th , at least 43 million people are not getting enough to eat each day.
While the Red Cross has recorded a 75% increase in the number of people relying on their support in the last three years, more than ever food banks are crucial in providing an informal safety net to citizens that have been forgotten by shrinking States.
IPSTV will explore the issue in depth across the Continent, from Greece to UK, where the Red Cross is planning to distribute food for the first time since World War II.
We will start our investigation by publishing for World Food Day an edited version of “How leftovers in Athens become a meal”, a video originally prepared by IPSTV Correspondent Apostolis Fotiadis for the IPSTV “Media and Food Talks” that took place in FAO headquarters in Rome from June 16th to June 20th 2013.
Hunger has not been an issue for the last three decades in Greece, but when the financial crisis turned to an economic one three years ago, issues related to poverty and food deprivation also appeared. The NGO Boroume was created as one of the first reactions regarding food waste since the beginning of 2012. Its creators saw impoverished people, not having their daily bread, but they also knew that so much of it was thrown away due to an outdated consumerist culture. Very soon they became a crucial platform that has helped save more than 250.000 portions of food only the last 14 months.
Alexandros Theodoris: “Actually the first initial idea was that there is so much food waste around us, and on the other side, there are so many people who need this food. What we did then is create a map which is a simple google map on our website, where anyone in Greece can insert his zip code and then the map will zoom in his neighbourhood and then any person can look up what sort of beneficiaries for his donation are in his neighbourhood. There were many people who wanted to help and they didn’t know how and they didn’t know where, so what we do is we work as a communication hub between possible food donations and the most suitable beneficiaries”.
Some of this food has ended up in this soup kitchen of the church organization Galini where many people come to ask for provisions or to eat cooked food every day.
Six volunteers work from early morning to prepare 3 to 400 portions of food, they use stuff that are ration of companies and individuals as well as offers from the Greek church. Sometimes up to 50% of the food consumed daily is saved food that could have become garbage.
George Bafanis is a volunteer cook here as well as in other soup kitchens the last three years, he has noticed not only an increase of people in need but also a decrease of food being wasted.
George Bafanis: “Consumption has been reduced and as a result people do not throw food away. If you can’t buy then you don’t waste it”.
And the volunteers at soup kitchen of Galini foundation are working hard to provide for the needs the crisis has created, some years ago a lot of this food would have been ended in the garbage, but now experts say something is changing, even in the conscience of the people.
One of the few researching food wasting in Greece is Katia Lazaridi, she coordinates the European life wasp tool project on waste prevention that studies concepts and consumers habits related to food waste as well as attempts to save food in the Greek family. Ms Lazaridi says, that things are changing.
Katia Lazaridi: “In undergoing research we found that most of Greek households, about 60% of them, have significantly reduced their amounts food wastage mainly due to economic reasons, all of them, more of 90% of them feel very guilty when they waste food and they do follow good practices, however this is again mainly due to financial reasons. The financial crisis has created a good background for waste reduction, it has reduced food waste. However this is due to economic reasons, so I think that the big bet and the aim of all campaigns in Greece should be to increase awareness on the food waste problem on grounds of moral and environmental issues”.+ Watch more videos by Apostolis Fotiadis