Eat, share, love. Some facts about foodsharing in Poland.
It is still summer – the time of weddings, holidays and fruit & veg harvest. These are typically situations in which we are often left with surplus food. And, as the humankind is particularly good at food wasting (some data can be found here), a lot of this surplus food will end up in bins. But what if we prefer to show our respect towards work and natural resources that have been invested in the production of this food? Well, of course it would be good to share it with someone. Fortunately, a few solutions have already been invented. Recently, I have published a post about OLIO, which is a great mobile app, but so far it has not been very commonly used in my country. Today I would like to write about another idea, which is becoming increasingly popular in Poland – Foodsharing Boxes.
What is a Foodsharing Box?
This is simply a fridge or a cupboard placed at a generally accessible location, such as a university, workplace or café, where people can bring their surplus food or grab what others have left.
Recently, I have had a chance to talk to Karolina Hansen, the founder of the first Polish Foodsharing Box and a great supporter of the foodsharing movement. Karolina answered my questions related to this initiative in Poland. This is what I found out:
- The first Polish Foodsharing Box was created in 2016 and can be found at the Faculty of Psychology, University of Warsaw. Since that time, 19 other Foodsharing Boxes have been opened in Poland (8 in Warsaw and 11 in other cities). Are you curious to know if there is one in your city? The full list is available here.
- In Foodsharing Boxes you can leave almost all types of food. Of course, the products need to be fit for consumption. The rule is simple: bring only things that you could eat yourself. The only forbidden items are those containing raw eggs, meat, unpasteurized milk, as well as alcohol. When sharing food, one should simply use their common sense – some of the Boxes are cupboards, not fridges and not all the products are fit to be left there, especially on hot summer days.
Who is in charge of the project?
- Each Box is taken care of by its founder. For example, Karolina Hansen looks after the Box at the Faculty of Psychology, which is her workplace. The person in charge controls the Box every day, checks the condition of the products left, cleans the fridge/cupboard and gets rid of unusable food if required.
- Everyone can initiate opening of a new Foodsharing Box. I was surprised to find out how little red tape it requires. The only thing you need to do is find a location and then obtain approval from the person or institution managing the place. For Karolina, it was the question of receiving a green light from the Faculty’s authorities. Then you need to organize a container. Cupboards and fridges usually come from private donors who wish to exchange their household equipment for a better model.
- Everyone can help themselves to the products left in Boxes. Not only the poor or homeless, but anyone who is feeling hungry or needs an item available at a Box. The main idea behind it is to prevent food waste. I was wondering how it looks in practice. Don’t people feel a bit uncomfortable, grabbing food left by strangers? But Karolina confirmed that there was absolutely no problem and that the food left in the Boxes disappeared really quickly. She needs to get rid of some items only occasionally. The Foodsharing Box at the Faculty of Psychology is very popular among lecturers, students, as well as the people coming from outside the university.
How can I get involved?
If food waste bothers you and you would like to help reduce it, you can get involved in a few different ways:
- Food recovery – all of us can volunteer to collect the food that would otherwise go to waste from restaurants and shops and deliver it to Foodsharing Boxes. If you wish to apply, just send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow the Facebook website where you can find information about food to be rescued in your area.
- Opening a new Foodsharing Box – at your school or workplace
- Promoting the idea of foodsharing among your friends and family
- Delivering your own surplus food to the nearest Box (if you bring some products, take a picture and share it on Facebook or OLIO – this way, you will reach more people who could be interested).
The idea of foodsharing is present in other countries, in different forms:
The concept of foodsharing arrived to Poland from Germany. On this website you can locate foodsharing initiatives in Germany, Austria and Switzerland: https://foodsharing.de/karte
Here you can read about a volunteer-based project in Scotland: http://www.foodsharing.scot/
“Yo no desperdicio” is a mobile app and a website helping to prevent food waste in Spain: https://yonodesperdicio.org/page/funciona?locale=es