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Local citizens in Ostend create local food products that combat food waste

EIT Food’s West region has worked with citizens in Ostend, to create new food products that use leftovers, to reduce food waste. The project called “POT Up” supports vulnerable groups in the local community, by helping them to develop recipes that are inspired by their cultural and family backgrounds.

30 Nov 2023
EIT Food West
  • 10 citizens from vulnerable situations were given entrepreneurial opportunities to create their own delicious recipes that fit in a jar.
  • The citizens were coached by a professional chef and attended several workshops to extend their learning around food and their products.
  • The recipes were made from leftover foods, helping to concur food waste.
  • Citizens presented their products to their friends, families, and professional buyers at a launch event.

To support the people of Ostend, we have brought together 10 citizens from vulnerable situations, several of them newcomers to the city from countries such as Syria and Afghanistan, to provide entrepreneurial opportunities around the topic of food, whilst actively combating food waste. The role of EIT Food is also to explore the entrepreneurial and scaling potential of this project by building partnerships with commercial companies. The project started in 2022, bringing people together to develop their POT Up products, whilst 2023 has been used to finalize the products and bring them to market.

Food waste is a major problem within the food chain as approximately 40% of food is going to waste (WWF). Food waste and food loss are multifaceted problems that span the entire agrifood supply chain, with serious environmental, economic, and social implications, but there are many ways that we can take action to reduce the issue.

The POT Up Project not only helps those in vulnerable situations, but also helps to fight against food waste. Through using food scraps, we have focused on the conservation techniques and recipes of their home countries, combined it with local leftover streams and had them develop new innovative products that fit in a jar.

By being coached by a professional chef and attending several workshops to extend their learning, the people of Ostend went on a journey of creating their delicious products to then label their products, list their ingredients and share their story in their jar.

The makers have recently had the opportunity of presenting their products at a launch event to their friends, families, and professional buyers such as retailers. For example, Colruyt attended the event to discover and taste the developed products.

Who is behind the jars and what have they created?

10 people have shared their stories through the power of food and helped to combat food waste and inspire others in the process.

  • Martha’s Candy Jam - “My POT Up is a summery jam of rhubarb and orange. Orange is ubiquitous in Morocco and rhubarb is something typical of our region. As I remember, my mother added rhubarb to almost all jams.”
  • Pip’s Winter Dip - “I cook by feeling, not according to recipes, with the aim of expressing the love from each product with dignity, respect and maximum expression in my dishes.”
  • Ali’s Magical Coriander Chutney - “During the war I was hit by a bomb, which destroyed a large part of my body. This means I don't have enough energy to cook on a large scale every day. Yet I remain active within many non-profit organizations and social organizations in Ostend where I am asked to cook for groups.”
  • Fiona’s Plum Jack with Speculoos Spices - “The most important thing about POT Up is that it is made with food surpluses and that we don't throw anything away.”
  • Elco’s Vegetable Pickles - “I was born in Kortrijk, raised in Menen, and washed up in Ostend since 2019. As the eldest of eight, I had to help in the kitchen every day.”
  • Nadia’s Mgalal Luft - “My grandfather had his own chef who cooked for the whole family every day. Every day I went to see what the pot was buying and stole all the dishes with my eyes.”
  • Nicole’s Bouillon D’o - “With my POT Up, I mainly want to say: don't throw anything away, because we must continue to cherish the gold of the sea, including the skin.”
  • Marta’s Chili’s - “In my country, chili is everywhere on every table. It would be nice if this were also on all Belgian tables.”
  • Yol’s Pear Chutney - “I consciously choose vegetarian cuisine, so I mainly cook with vegetables. I continue to search, but now I have a repertoire of tasty dishes and continue to discover new things.”
  • Yordano’s Applesauce - “I hope to continue to grow with my POT Up. I don't know if this will work, but I would like to build a small factory where I can help others develop their POT Ups. With my POT Up I want to call on people to live a healthy life. Good health is the most important thing for every person.”

The POT Up project intends to scale up in 2024 and launch a new group of makers to embark on their journey, sharing their stories and bringing more jars to market.

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