Inspiring! That's what the participants thought about the skill-sharing session on food processing that FEBA organized in collaboration with the Fédération Française des Banques Alimentaires on 12-13 July in Paris.
Well, why transform food, anyway? It is a way to extend the shelf-life of surplus food and to prevent food waste. This is possible by processing surplus food into meals, dehydrating fruit, extracting juice, making preserves and jams. But that processing demands compliance with specific hygiene and food safety rules.
Some projects can be very sophisticated and go beyond food processing. For instance the Banque Alimentaire de Paris et d'Ile-de-France recovers large pieces of meat near the 'use by' date and provides them to La Table de Cana, which is a gourmet caterer, but not just that: they promote social integration training youths in school exclusion and unemployed people in catering professions so that they can get autonomous.
Such projects raise challenging managerial issues: in what quantities and in which seasonality are the supplies available? Do you have the processing equipment, competencies, storage and transport facilities? Do you have charitable organizations which are able to use the prepared meals or shops where your preserves can be sold? These are some of the questions that Partage, the Food Bank of Geneva, is considering before investing in an apple dehydration equipment: they are looking for additional sources of surplus fruit to fill in their capacities.
Do you have the sponsors to provide equipment, food and funds so that you will be able to donate the processed food to charitable organizations for free? Here is where Fondation Carrefour, which supported this skill-sharing session, can play an important role: they are happy to fund this kind of projects, to connect associations and to generate synergies.
Indeed food processing can offer plenty opportunities to prevent food waste and to help people in need, provided these activities are well thought through.