EIT Food South, the cooperative business Ausolan (specialised in meals for schools and homes for the elderly), and the Spanish Food Banks in Madrid, Bilbao and Gipuzkoa have implemented an initiative to elaborate and deliver over 60,000 children’s menus from mid-May until the end of the current school year.
Through this project, EIT Food aims at making the food system more sustainable, healthier and more reliable. It also contributes its knowledge of the agrifood sector, the latter having been invited to participate in this initiative to provide healthy food surplus and donations. Ausolan, a leading company in hospitality services for collectivities, is a 50-year-old company belonging to Mondragon Corporation experienced in distributing foods on a daily basis. It will be responsible for collecting raw materials, elaborating 1,500 children’s meals each day, for 45 days, and distributing them between the three pre-established food banks. These, in turn, have contacted with 250 social organisations that attend to the target population (boys and girls from low-income households), who will receive these packaged meals.
The entire process will be done under strict health, nutritional, and hygienic criteria: they will serve products such as pulses, rice, vegetables, fruit, and yoghurt. All the meals will follow the same standards established for school canteens, including refrigeration and handling conditions, etc. Similarly, as a complement to the food destined to minors, the bags that will be delivered to families will also include games and activities to encourage healthy eating habits. The website salvacomidas.com has also been launched, and downloadable educational elements will be added shortly.
Goals of the initiative
This initiative, called “Los Salvacomidas” (Foodsavers) meets different objectives in a crucial moment due to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. On the one hand, it tends to the needs of the most impoverished households, taking special care of children, avoiding risks such as obesity or malnutrition, while teaching healthy food habits. In this sense, the project addresses Goals 2 (Zero hunger) and 12 (Responsible consumption and production) of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
On the other hand, this campaign seeks to avoid food waste, since it uses the surplus of the sector due to the drop in demand of certain products or the difficulty for exports, among other sources. Thanks to donations or purchases at very low prices, perishable goods that would have become waste are expected to be put to good use. Some companies, such as Grupo AN, Bacalaos Alkorta, Okin, and Danone, are committed to delivering products for this campaign. Similarly, the Basque Food Cluster has collaborated in creating a campaign to receive further surpluses.
The meals will be prepared in the central kitchens of Ausolan in the Basque Country and Madrid, and will be taken to the warehouses prepared by the food banks in the cities of Basauri (Bizkaia), Bergara and Oiartzun (Gipuzkoa), and Alcalá de Henares (Madrid). The consortium will use their own network of volunteers for this project.