The 'recovered' food that reaches the plate of 240 families
Everything happens on the same day: the establishments (at the moment two supermarkets of the same chain) deliver the fruits and vegetables that they are going to throw away to the group of volunteers and they are in charge of doing a 'triage'. What can be consumed is divided equally into baskets to be delivered; what is not, is delivered to people who have animals or gardens to make compost.
This is the case in 32 Catalan municipalities, including Cambrils, Mont-roig, Vimbodí, L'Espluga, Montblanc, Reus and Tarragona. In each one it is managed in a different way; in some cases it is done by neighborhood associations and, in others, by social or religious entities, all gathered in the Red de Ayuda Mutua Alimentaria, as explained by the activist Jorge Fernández.
In the case of Tarragona, they began last August, when some entities that deliver food closed for the summer, but since then they have not stopped. The Logos association is in charge of organizing the project in the city and every week 245 families come to its premises on Nou de Santa Tecla street, in the Part Baixa. Some members of these families, 18 specifically, are the ones who volunteer throughout the process.
Mateo Prieto, a 20-year-old Colombian, is one of them. He acknowledges that having these fruits and vegetables helps his family have a more varied diet. The experience is also bringing other satisfactions, such as meeting other neighbors and other realities. There is also an important part of raising awareness "if someone sees that there are onions in their basket but they already have them, they return them so that someone else can use them."
In any case, these are vulnerable families, although not all of them are users of Serveis Socials. "We believe that someone who queues for more than an hour to look for food is because he needs it," concludes Fernández.
The basket that families receive depends on what arrives each week, it is basically made up of fruits and vegetables, and eventually includes other fresh foods such as chicken or sausages. It is a way, they say, to enrich the diet, since it is more common for entities to help them with dry food.
In addition to what the supermarkets deliver punctually, they have donations from food companies and the Espigoladors Foundation, which is in charge of collecting, by agreement with the producer, fruits and vegetables that are discarded from the commercial circuit due to surplus production, decrease in sales or cosmetic issues. This week, without going any further, they have lettuce that they have picked up in Cambrils and apples from Prades. The volunteers of the Xarxa, in fact, joined the work of Espigoladors.
That is one of the keys to the project, that most people participate actively. In fact, the group collaborates in the maintenance of a recovered lot on Smith Street and plans to cultivate a small garden.
David Domènech, from the Logos association, explains that most supermarket chains have a well-established circuit of food that they will not be able to sell and the way to get it to entities and soup kitchens. However, he points out that there is a chain that persists in throwing the surplus "and you see how people end up looking in the garbage," he denounces.
It is not a matter, he assures, of competing with other entities in the city that receive food and with the Xarxa he also collaborates, but "that nothing that can be used does not go to the trash." A task, he assures, in which other cities such as neighboring Reus, which has a municipal program in this regard, are ahead of us.
Tarragona will have a waste plan
This week the elaboration of the local Plan for the prevention of municipal waste in Tarragona has gone out to tender and one of the aspects that it includes is a study of the generators of food surplus in the city, among which it includes «municipal and outdoor markets, canteens schools, health centers and large private producers.
The plan will define the strategies that must be followed within the garbage contract that is currently being tendered. In fact, the implementation of a service against food waste is one of the criteria that give points when awarding the contract.
The establishments and institutions that generate surpluses that participate in the study (at least 80 will be visited) will do so voluntarily. It will be determined what type of food could be used and in what quantity, both fresh and cooked or frozen. The reduction in the generation of organic waste released per year must also be calculated.
On the other hand, the study should also define which are the social entities that are already working in this field and that have an interest in collecting, storing and distributing usable food. Serveis Socials, for its part, will also help determine which soup kitchens or groups should receive this food.
The final result should be a proposal that defines what the food use project should be like and the investment that is needed (freezers, packaging machines, etc.) to start it up.
The idea, they explain from the Department of Neteja, is that this new municipal service acts as an intermediary between the companies that have a surplus and the social entities that need it.
The plan also contemplates strategies to prevent the generation of other waste such as a protocol for the reuse of bulky items such as furniture or decorative objects, among others.