Every year, a third of global food production goes to waste according to studies done by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). In the spirit of “think global, act local”, the grassroots initiative Foodsharing was founded in Germany in 2012 to tackle the problem of food waste. Since then the concept is becoming increasingly popular in Germany and beyond.
Have you heard of its success story yet?
The beginning of the Foodsharing movement in Germany: from “dumpster diving” to food sharing
The beginnings of the initiative can be traced to two German cities, Cologne and Berlin, in 2012.
In Cologne the online-platform “foodsharing.de” was invented to allow private individuals to share still edible food which they would otherwise throw away, for example because they bought too much or they were going on vacation.
At the same time in Berlin, a similar initiative called “lebensmittelretten” was founded by Raphael Fellmer, a motivated “dumpster diver” who lived on food that would be thrown away by supermarkets. Several companies were contacted and asked to collaborate. The first supermarket to cooperate was the organic supermarket “Bio-Company”, which allowed members of the initiative, the so called “foodsavers,” to pick up the food that passed the best-before-date and would otherwise have been thrown away.
These two ideas developed in parallel, and in December 2014, they agreed on joining forces as a common initiative called “Foodsharing”.
The success story of Foodsharing
Foodsharing is a volunteer-led grassroots movement which aims to systematically fight food waste by forming cooperation with stores on a large scale in an easily manageable way. Besides, the movement creates places to store and share food, such as public fridges and shelves, and members also organise activities to raise awareness for the global problem of food waste.
Foodsharing features a website and online platform – www.foodsharing.de – (only in German language) which makes it easy to save and share food. On the website, a map shows where to find participating stores that offer their surplus food for a pick-up. People interested to pick up this food can then register on the website, pass a short quiz (to make sure they are really aware of and confirm with the idea behind the concept) and then eventually visit the store at a certain time to pick up the surplus food. These volunteers are called “Foodsaver”. The website also provides tools to manage and facilitate the pick-ups.
Furthermore, the movement and its members provide places such as public fridges and shelves that the “Foodsaver” and others can then use to share surplus food with everybody. Members who only share food are called “Foodsharer”.
A lot of people are both Foodsaver & Foodsharer, as they save and share surplus food!
Foodsharing deals with surplus food which can not be taken by food banks and other charities. Those organisations have rather strict restrictions on products: they can only take large quantities of goods, they can not take expired goods, and so on. Foodsharing is smaller, locally organised, and therefore more flexible. Its members can pick up small amounts of surplus food, like a few loaves of bread or few pieces of fruits & vegetables, or act on short notice like saving ice cream when a store’s freezer has just failed.
Foodsharing gives always priority to charities and works together with other organisations to raise awareness for the global problem of food waste and to prevent food from going to waste.
As of April 2020, Foodsharing Germany has saved more than 32 million kilograms of food, with nearly 73,000 Foodsaver picking up food at nearly 7,000 partnering stores.
This is all achieved by volunteers who use their own time and organise themselves to do something to fight food waste. Foodsharing is not a business with a focus of earning money, nor a charity with the primary intention to help people in need.
Through Foodsharing, people can contribute and actually be agents of change. The concept enables and also requires people to take initiative by spreading the idea, approaching stores, finding volunteers, and picking-up, saving and sharing food. Foodsharing is a grassroots movement and depends on the engagement of its Foodsaver and Foodsharer.
You can get there in your country as well! Start your own local Foodsharing initiative now!
More about Foodsharing Germany here:
- How foodsharing in Germany began
- Sharing instead of wasting – how volunteers in Germany try to fight food waste
- German food-sharing website helps feed hungry
- Got Leftovers To Share? In Germany, There’s A Website For That
- German dumpster divers get connected to wage war on food waste
Saving and Sharing food goes international: foodsaving.world
Foodsaving.world focuses on the internationalization of the Foodsharing movement. The website provides free information on every aspect of food saving the team comes across.
Beside, the group developed Karrot, a free and open source software to help you organize your pickups!
“A tool, that is meant to enable you to run a successful, efficient and organized foodsaving project. It is a completely translatable, open source and free piece of software, that is developed by passionate volunteers only.”
Foodsaving.world hosts an instance on karrot.world and you can simply use it there. The general idea for long-term use is, however, that foodsaving groups host their own instances if possible.
Isn’t that amazing?! But why use Karrot?
Why not just use social media to share food?
Facebook and other popular social media platforms can be pretty useful when it comes to sharing, since they can easily reach a lot of people once your group starts to gain local attention. However, classic social networks are not well suited to the saving part of food sharing.That’s where Karrot is helpful. The software was inspired by German foodsharing.de, and its benefits include:
- groups (either open or protected)
- user accounts with profile information and pictures
- store pages with descriptions and locations
- maps to display store locations
- various options to communicate and give feedback
- a lot more in the future! (Karrot is under active development)
Read about experiences in other countries:
- Foodsharing in Maastricht, Holland
- Foodsharing in Hong Kong
- Foodsharing in the United Kingdom
- Foodsharing in Poland
- Foodsharing in Switzerland
- Foodsharing in Gothenburg, Sweden
- Foodsharing in Bilbao, Spain
- Foodsharing in Taipei, Taiwan
Foodsaving and Foodsharing are global initiatives for people, by people! They are distributed, global grassroots movements against food waste. It’s all open-source and volunteer based. There is no money involved and no revenue made with the saved food or users’ data. The Foodsaving Worldwide Team is doing an amazing job for all of us, working selflessly with the belief that no more good food should be thrown away. Join the movement—lets save and share food!
Learn how to start your own Foodsharing initiative here soon!
By Stefan Simon for COLLECTIVE GREEN