At one time or another, we’ve all been shocked at the amount of food wasted by restaurants and supermarkets when so many people around the world have so little to eat.

With this thought in mind, Xenia Papastavrou found a way to put the wasted food to use in the peak of the financial crisis.

Fuelled by the country’s worsening state of affairs, three years ago the 39-year-old started an organisation called Boroume – in Greek meaning ‘We Can’.

Ms Papastavrou and her team take food headed for the bin, including fresh fruit, vegetables and bread, and share it amongst charities that are low on resources.

“In June, they gave us 3,000 kilos of melons; in August we got 7,200 cartons of milk,” Ms Papastavrou told AFP.
On average, Boroume’s efforts provide around 2,500 meals per day across the country.

The excessive wastage, she says, comes down to people’s mentality and the expectation that when they pay for a meal, the plates should be piled high.

“Greece is a country that throws a lot away. There isn’t really a mentality of paying attention to this,” Ms Papastavrou said.

Though in a country where good quality is associated with high prices, the crisis has forced people to start thinking differently and to change their habits.

With families facing cuts to pensions and higher taxes and farmers facing their own setbacks, three years ago the ‘Potato Movement’ surfaced.

Producers started to sell their product directly to the consumer from the back of their trucks, resulting in better value for the customer and higher profits for farmers.

Joining the bandwagon, 12 new co-operatives have surfaced in the capital of Athens in the last few years, negotiating directly with food producers.

Though movements like this are making a positive contribution, according to Papastavrou there’s a long way to go, with figures showing a quarter of the population is at risk of poverty.

This can be seen in the number of people regularly visiting the soup kitchen in Athens’ middle-class suburb of Zografou, jumping from 80 to 500 people in the past six years.

“So you see how important it is for us to help each other,” said Ms Papastavrou.

Source: AAP