The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations warns in its latest annual report that while 870 million people suffer from hunger in developing countries, the rest of the world wastes over 1,300 million of tons of food. The non-profit Equoevento Onlus was created to fight this imbalance.
Founded in Italy in 2013 by four young professionals, Equoevento Onlus is dedicated to saving food that would otherwise be thrown out after social events. Since the beginning, the point has been to create a viable way to give this food a second life, so that those without access to it can take advantage of it.
The founders looked for volunteers amongst family, friends, and small local patrons, with the goal of meeting event organizers at designated times to pick-up leftover food after parties and gatherings. They ensure the food is kept in climatized conditions and is safely transported.
Equoevento Onlus began in Rome, where hundreds of meetings and events happen on a weekly basis. Of course, volunteers and employees must act quickly. Once food is recovered, it must be delivered to charity organizations as quickly as possible.
“Managing our resources efficiently an important challenge in fighting food waste in our society,” explains Andrea Vota, one of the organization’s founders.
The same UN report mentioned above also states that 80% of wasted food is still in an edible state when discarded. Based on this premise, Equoevent has been able to recreate its model across other cities in Italy. Moreover, the organization began operations in Madrid and Paris about a year ago and plans to open its doors in other European countries soon.
A global epidemic
The problem with food waste in Europe has become extremely worrisome. Uneaten food in the old continent could feed up to 200 million people. In a country like Spain, 7.7 million tons of food are discarded annually.
But it’s in the United States where the numbers give most cause for concern. A study done by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the universities of New Hampshire and Vermont observed food consumption from 2007-2014, and found that almost fifteen thousand tons of food end up in the trash, daily.
The most worrying fact is that the largest percentage of discarded food globally is vegetables and tubers, vital to any healthy diet. In fact, this problem is officially an epidemic.
There’s hope in that, over the past few years, initiatives like Equovento have been reproduced in several places around the globe.
“Millions of people around the globe are fighting to have three meals a day, and others suffer hunger and malnutrition in this era of abundance that we live in,” says Ana, a volunteer with the organization in Madrid. “Meanwhile, food waste is shamefully high in developed countries. I think this is the time that we can all do something together.” Efforts like hers show that solidarity is something that should unite us all. ■