Tackling Food Waste with Food Saving Lund
by Soham Wrick Datta, Yizhen Yang and the Board of FSL
Food Saving Lund is an organisation run by a group of people fighting against food waste by doing regular food pick-ups in & around Lund, storing it in food banks & sharing it among the community other than organising workshops & social events to raise awareness towards the environmental challenge of food waste.
How did Food Saving Lund originate?
We began as a group of volunteers in the town of Lund in the south of Sweden who try to reduce food waste by joining forces with various shops to pick up food that would otherwise be thrown away and distribute it among the community or store it in food banks that are accessible to communities in need of food. We use our platform, Karrot, to register new members who can gain access to our pickup overview and sign up for pickups in various stores including bakeries and fresh food markets. Once they have picked up the food, they share it among the community and take it to our four designated food banks in the town where a lot of people from marginalized communities and different backgrounds get access to that food for free.
We also host lots of workshops to educate the students, the residents and the wider communities about the environmental and social sustainability challenges of food waste. Through these workshops and community events like documentary screenings, creative cooking sessions and community potlucks, there are more and more people who are starting to know more about Food Saving Lund and becoming new members thus spreading awareness and bringing about systemic change.
What was Food Saving Lund‘s inspiration?
We think our policymakers find rather short-sighted solutions to complex problems that are quite unsustainable. In the long term, we need sustainable degrowth where we start producing less, save resources that are wasted on the packaging and raise awareness towards buying as much as we need rather than buying just because we can. There must be a balance between production and consumption and at the moment, we are producing much more than we can consume and yet there are regions and communities around the world that are severely affected by poverty and hunger. Thus, we saw the need for local projects like FSL that can make a difference locally and create a local ecosystem where there is minimal food waste and it could cause a ripple effect that we are expecting in other parts of Sweden and other countries in Europe like Denmark, Lithuania, France and Germany. It is also related to the UN sustainable development goal, which is a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all by 2030.
What is/was difficult about the project?
Since we post all the events on Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram, the existing volunteers or even new members who do not have any social media accounts find it difficult to get involved at times and we’re trying to devise ways to spread more information through Karrot. During the pandemic, it has not been easy to gather members together to have a large pickup session. Moreover, based on the new pandemic law, we suggest people maintain physical distancing and share the extra food with their neighbours or housemates as we have to take extra precaution in the way we operate in the food banks.
We think the transition period between semesters and especially in the summer is tough as a lot of our volunteers and admins move on from their roles and there are new volunteers coming in – one of the disadvantages of being in a university town but having said that, most of our volunteers are university students so we have a lot of nationalities and backgrounds represented creating one of the most diverse organizations around.
How is it progressing?
Food Saving Lund has been growing steadily. Food Savers Malmo, volunteers from Uppsala and a volunteer from Toma Lilla have reached out to us to know how we function as a group and we have hosted some joint sessions. We have set up a democratic model at FSL where we can have a constant inflow of admins who could take over every 6 months to a year. There is a lot of transparency and accountability in the way we work. At a personal level, I have explored the idea of Food Saving Vilnius and that is something to look forward to. FSL is working towards creating that awareness which can empower individuals to make those little changes in our everyday life that can eventually cause a ripple effect in the future.
What is/was the biggest success?
We have been able to save more than 10,000 kg of food over the last year and a half and have been able to reach nearly 200 active volunteers. We have been on the Danish radio channel P1 in a show called Orienteering talking about FSL. We have been interviewed in the Tidningen Lundagård, the oldest student newspaper in circulation in Sweden. We have also been interviewed by Mobilizing Expertise at Ideon Science Park which is due to be published in the book, “Soft City Stories” that covers youth-led social entrepreneurship across multiple countries in Europe. We have been on the Journey Visions Podcast talking about how the organization was formed and how we have come along. We have also been featured by the Youth & Environment Europe Network on their website in an article talking about our work. We have been the subject of a master’s thesis and we have collaborated with a bunch of other organizations like Hallbart Universitet, ABC – Active Contributions for People and the Environment, EOS Cares, and Folkuniversitet.
You can find out more about FSL via their social media channels!
Soham Wrick Datta is the Admin, New Member Trainer & External Relations of Food Saving Lund. With a passion for Clinical Medical Research, an academic background encompassing a Ph.D. in Oncology and Masters in Immunology & Global Health, he aims to bridge the gap between medical research and climate change. He recognises the importance of tackling the problem of food waste at the grass root level and runs Food Saving Lund as an organization that saves food, shares it among the community and raises awareness among the citizens towards the devastating effects of food waste and ways to reduce food waste thus reducing overall emissions and gross abuse of natural resources.
Yizhen Yang is the treasurer at Food Saving Lund. She is studying for a Master’s degree in Food Technology and Nutrition at Lund University and has participated in a project to develop high fiber content minced fish products that can reduce the fish content in the diet of people who are in the transition state of their dietary style and moving towards a more climate-friendly diet. She also intends to develop an app to help people living in the same community to share their food conveniently and enhance their awareness towards reducing food waste. Thus, it was an organic decision for her to join the existing team at FSL.
Rest of the Board at FSL:
Alexandra Gerer is the Partnerships Coordinator at Food Saving Lund. She is a Master’s student in Environmental Sciences and Sustainability at Lund University. When coming to Lund for her studies, she wanted to take an active part in the transition towards sustainability in the local context. Being part of Foodsaving Lund gives her the chance to address the flaws in our current food supply system – mostly through awareness rising and reduction of food waste.
Katarina Zunic is the pick-up coordinator at Food Saving Lund. She graduated in the field of Psychology, but chose to work in Human Resources. She found her motivation to join Food Saving Lund after the course Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development where she learned more about climate change challenges and the importance of acting now and everyday towards a more sustainable world.
Anna Maria Padol is the Social Media manager at Food Saving Lund and helps out with planning educational events and is creative with her marketing strategies for FSL. She has a Ph.D. in Physics. She believes that there is no planet B and it serves as a motivation for her in reducing food waste and working for FSL.