One third: SavingFood tackles food waste by redistributing surplus to people in need

One third: SavingFood tackles food waste by redistributing surplus to people in need

Eirini Kalemaki, ViLabs, explains how the CAPS project SavingFood redistributes surplus food and leftover crops for the benefit of vulnerable groups of our society, and identifies the critical factors that can increase the success of collective awareness platforms in tackling food waste in the future.

A two-year CAPS project SavingFood aims at designing an EU wide solution for food waste reduction. Grassroot movements and organizations both across Europe and around the world have also been working toward the same ends, the project, however, moves forward from traditional surplus redistribution channels by seeking to exploit the tremendous collaborative and knowledge-sharing power of online networked communities.

Innovation happens bottom-up

SavingFood is a collective awareness platform fighting hunger and food waste and its underlying causes by redistributing surplus food to welfare organizations that support people in need. By bridging the stakeholders on food waste together, SavingFood turns an environmental problem into a pro-social solution, assisting donors, charities, and volunteers in offering, gathering, distributing, and receiving surplus food easily.

Stakeholders working together will be to the benefit of the development of more sustainable food systems.

According to UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), roughly one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally, which amounts to about 1.3 billion tons per year. At the same time, nearly billion people are unable to obtain enough food to meet their daily needs. Kalemaki is confident that stakeholders working together in an inclusive, collaborative manner will be to the benefit of the overall food waste reduction, and in particular to shifting toward the development of more sustainable food systems on local and national levels.

SavingFood will be an open source, massively-scalable platform. As Kalemaki explains, the idea is to provide a viable path for organizations of all sizes to deal with their food saving procedures. Moreover, SavingFood will serve as an educational and awareness raising device that will trigger multidisciplinary collaborations, and collective action, starting bottom-up.

Where is food wasted?

The food chain is a complex and dynamic system, where food waste occurs at various points along the food supply chain, from farms to retailers, and restaurants, as well as at home, and the problem must be addressed at each point.

SavingFood takes this complexity into account by empowering key actors, including farmers, food manufacturers, whole sharers, retailers, and consumers to act. It builds online bridges and fosters collaborations between donors and recipients by providing matchmaking opportunities, tools such as crowdsourcing map, and much more.

According to Kalemaki, more than ever, citizen empowerment is an important way to deliver a lasting impact in fighting food waste. SavingFood offers a new form of participatory innovation, where citizens assume the role of the so called ‘human sensors’ and are able to inform potential donors, recipients or notify to food distribution charity.

Calculating food waste: more sustainable business practices

One of the reasons why food waste has become an increasingly hot topic is the costs in terms of lost revenue and waste management expenses have never been properly measured. SavingFood offers a self-assessment tool to help various businesses in the food industry understand both the financial and environmental costs of their food waste activities.

The tool works by analyzing and evaluating average disposal, preparation, as well as environmental costs. The results are insights “or next best actions” that can be acted upon to achieve significant reduction of food wastage.

Coordinated by ViLabs, the SavingFood consortium includes partners with strong expertise in campaigns and practices against food waste, in IT development as well as in social research and analysis: Boroume, IT Innovation, HFA (Hungarian Food Bank Association), FILAB, FEEDBACK and iMinds. Visit the SavingFood website, and follow @saving_food on Twitter.

[This article is a part of our weekly series ‘Future trends’]

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