A sustainable food system with food security for all people is possible. There is still a long way to make it a reality, but we have everything we need to achieve it. To do so, we need to work together: civil society, social organizations, companies and government authorities.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), global food security is achieved “when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and preferences for an active and healthy life.”
Every contribution adds up to food security and Redalco’s work is vital in this journey.
It is a non-profit organization that dreams big, but with its feet firmly on the ground. They are dedicated to recovering vegetables and fruits in good conditions that would otherwise be wasted, sorting them and distributing them to social organizations that turn them into nutritious meals for those who need them most.
It was founded in 2016 in Uruguay and since then they have already rescued more than 2,300,000 kilograms of food. Thanks to this, more than 5,750,000 dishes have been made, and delivered to people in vulnerable situations. In 2021, they were recognized with the Nova Award from the National Agency for Research and Innovation (ANII) in the Social Impact category.
At Abstracta, we deeply believe in Redalco’s mission and the way they carry out their objectives, which we also feel like our own. For this reason, we have been collaborating with its organization since 2020, and we are very proud to be part of such a work.
How does Abstracta contribute to food security?
Each year, we donate 1% of Abstracta’s profits from the previous year to social causes, and in 2021, 86% of those profits went to Redalco. In addition, many people who work at Abstracta have become donors on a personal level.
But we don’t stop there. We are part of concrete volunteer actions because we believe that getting in touch with the production of fruits and vegetables, with the land and with those who produce them, is a great step to become aware. We also join social campaigns through our different communication platforms. In 2021, we joined the campaign called #PlatesMission, which aimed to deliver 1,500,000 plates of food.
In March 2022, we were part of apple and sweet potato picking activities in different farms in the town of Canelones, and new activities are already on the agenda.
Why do we do it?
The answer is very simple: food security is vital for people’s lives, as well as for the construction of a fair society, with equal opportunities.
According to an FAO report publicated in 2021, it is estimated that between 720 and 811 million people in the world suffered from hunger in 2020, which is 118 million more than in 2019. The report revealed that “nearly one in three of the world’s population lacked access to adequate food” in 2020, or about 2.37 billion people. Nearly half of them are concentrated in Asia, one third in Africa, and 11% in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The “Food waste index 2021” of the United Nations Environment Program 2021, in 2019, reported that 17% of the world’s food production was wasted, i.e. 931 million tons of food. Of this waste, 61% was generated in households.
Food security in Uruguay
Uruguay is no stranger to this global problem at all, but the good news is that we can do something to reverse the situation.
“More than 250,000 people are unable to access food in Uruguay. At the same time, 125 million kilograms of fruits and vegetables are wasted every year. If we manage to rescue all the nutritious food that goes to waste, we can deliver 3 plates of food per day to all those people who need it most,” said Yamandu Plada, co-founder and director of Redalco, at a Jam Session held together with Abstracta in December 2021.
To achieve this, Redalco volunteers go daily to companies located within the Metropolitan Agri-Food Unit (UAM) and to producers’ farms to recover fruits and vegetables. They sort and pack the recovered fruits and vegetables, and deliver them to beneficiary institutions that work with vulnerable populations. Currently, they are distributing food to 350 beneficiary institutions, with 35 thousand beneficiaries per week.
During the Jam Session, Yamandu explained that food is often wasted either because of overproduction or because it is not chosen due to its size, shape or color. “By recovering them, we try to prevent the resources that were used to produce them from being wasted, such as land, water, energy to transport the goods and labor of those who harvested,” he outlined.
“We are reaching 15% of food-insecure people in Uruguay, recovering only 1% of the food. By 2022 we aim to double that amount. We must generate a link between food considered imperfect with trade channels and with those who need it. But we cannot do it alone; the State, individuals, and companies must be involved,” he explained. “If we recover 30 percent of what is thrown away, there should be no food insecurity, this is our goal marked as the sky.”
In 1st person – From the particular to the global and vice-versa
“I was shocked to see the amount of waste that cannot be sold just because it does not meet a certain standard, even though it is in good condition and delicious. The experience of recovering food mobilized my conscience on how I eat and the products I select. It also impacted my reflection on how privileged I am to be able to make those choices. I started to prepare a piece of land to plant vegetables,” said Lucía Perez, psychologist and member of Abstracta’s People Care team, who participated as a volunteer in a fruit harvest.
“It’s painful that there are so many hungry people when there is so much food. It’s obscene, that’s the word. Not to mention the environmental waste that this means. On one of our visits to a farm, we recovered 3 tons of apples that would otherwise have been wasted,” said Vera Babat, psychologist and Chief Culture Officer of Abstracta.
Undoubtedly, individual experiences are of global importance. It all adds up. Globally, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with agenda 2030, include a “Zero Hunger” goal, seeking to end all forms of hunger and malnutrition.
Unfortunately, according to the FAO, “global hunger increased in 2020 under the shadow of the HIV/AIDS-19 pandemic” and this has made the challenge of meeting Zero Hunger more difficult.
Many people cannot donate or volunteer, but they can still collaborate. How? By changing certain consumption habits and food choices, they can become key links in reducing food waste. Just by changing food choices, not putting aside certain foods in good condition just because of size or color, and taking advantage of all parts of the food, is already a lot.
Would you like to join Redalco? There are many ways to do it! You can add volunteer time or donations. Find out more by clicking here.
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