Sunday, December 8, 2013

Re-Food Works to Feed Portugal

By: Danny Medlock
Produced & Edited by: Sandhya Kambhampati

  It was not some sort of religious awakening that kept Hunter Halder in Portugal after he made a one-week pilgrimage to the Basilica at Fatima, Portugal.
  “I fell for the tour guide and she made the mistake of falling for me, and we had a baby,” Halder said.

  The marriage did not last, but Portugal became his children’s home and the Richmond, Virginia native stayed. After two decades of working odd jobs, his children inspired his new job as a food recycler.
Halder on his bike picking up food that is thrown away.
(Image provided) 
 Each day, Halder puts on his trademark Fedora and blazer, hops on his modified bicycle and rides around Portugal’s capital city, picking up food that Lisbon area restaurants, hotels, grocery stores and museums are planning on throwing away.
  The idea was born out of Halder’s own desire to give back, and his daughter’s complaining.

  After a stint working with Phillip Marsh, the cigarette titan, Halder realized he wanted to do something positive with his life.

  He designed five humanitarian projects but did not have the means to launch them. He scrapped the projects entirely one night at dinner.

  “I was at a restaurant with my daughters and one of them said ‘what happens to the salad bar at the end of the night?’ I said it was going to the trash- she didn’t like that,” Halder said. “I tried to comfort her and say they don’t have an alternative, and at that word, the light bulb moment happened.”
  He designed the project within 24 hours and showed his son, Christopher, who agreed to co-found and gave it its name, Re-Food. 
  Within four months, Halder made his first collection.
Re-Food’s mission
  On the micro level, Re-Food aims to make Lisbon the first city in the world to end unnecessary food waste. Once accomplished, Re-Food intends to end urban hunger globally.
  Each program within Re-Food is a neighborhood-based project. No “cell” is more than 1 sq. mile in area. Halder plans to feed all of Portugal through replication.
  “This year we will experience 300% growth (growing) from my route to 4 cells and from rescuing 1,000 meals a month to rescuing more than 12,000 meals a month,” Halder said.

  In 2014, Re-Food will then replicate 24 times in Lisbon, feeding the entire city, accomplishing their first strategic mission.

Re-Food hopes to make Lisbon the first city in the world to end unnecessary food waste.
(Image provided)
Replication Around Lisbon
  Filipa da Cunha operates Re-food’s newest cell in Lisbon’s “Estrela” sector.
  Like Hunter, she saw the hunger problem and aimed to solve it.
  “I was daily stricken, by people revolving the garbage containers outside the supermarket. I decided to speak to the supermarket manager and he explained (to) me that I needed to find an institution in order to receive the food surpluses and distribute them,” Cunha said.
  She met up with Hunter and they established the first task – determining a place to manage their operation.
  They settled on the Institution of the Immaculate, a building managed by nuns. Cunha and her friends then began to spread their message to the community, including local restaurants. She found the community receptive of their idea.
  “Most of the restaurant owners welcome our project and some of them even bother to make extra food for us in days when there are no surpluses left,” she said.
  Re-food Estrela is different from Re-food in Nossa Senhora de Fátima. While Halder rides a bike around town, Cunha is one of 21 managers and they use the cars of their approximate 280 volunteers to make their pick-ups.
Thanksgiving in Portugal
  In the town of Cascais, Portugal, Patricia Westheimer has been giving back for more than two decades.
  Westheimer is the president of the expatriate group Americans in Portugal, a social organization that not only brings Americans together in Portugal, but integrates them with the other international communities.
  She is able to help as much as she does because of her organization’s great relationship with the American Embassy.
  “We have a great relationship with the embassy, which is unique. The embassy comes to our events, I’m invited to theirs. They support us, we support them,” she said.
  Americans in Portugal does not cater to only Americans. This year’s Thanksgiving table had more than 140 guests, most of which were not American.
  “We have a positive image in the community and we like it. We try to make a good impressions about Americans,” Westheimer said.
  José Miguel de Carvalho Cerqueira was in attendance for the event, and had a splendid time.
  “Dinner was fantastic. I had salads and turkey with apple pie and wine. The buffet had plenty of choice, more than 30 varieties of different dishes,” he said.
  These efforts are important in changing anti-American sentiment.
  “It is not very easy to be pro-American in Portugal. Most Portuguese attitude is based on envy. Americans in Portugal can be a way to promote American culture in Portugal,” Carvalho Cerqueira said.
  Westheimer’s latest project is a Re-Food style program near the SOS Chidren’s Village in Bicesse.
  Westheimer is calling the project Mottainai, a Japanese word that conveys a sense of regret concerning waste.
Making a difference
Halder wants to not only make a local difference,
but a global difference. (Image provided)
  With 18 percent of Portugal living below the poverty line and that number increasing as a result of the nation’s economic crisis, the need for these programs have never been greater.
“The economic situation is bad. Not having money to pay the electricity, water, medicine and food is a terrible situation for any family to confront. Our work takes a little of the pressure off of some families,” Halder said.
  The work is certainly gratifying for Halder and those who volunteer.
  “Perhaps the thing the moves me most is the hundreds of good people who give their most valuable asset, their time, to change the world a little in their own neighborhood. Every two hour micro-shift feeds 10 people and every volunteer is a hero,” Halder said.
  Halder recognizes feeding the entire world is a large project, but by distributing the project by individual neighborhoods, he believes the goal is attainable.
  “How close are we? We began with one step and we are on the move, and are gathering momentum,” he said. ”How close we are depends on you. Do you want to bring Re-food to your town?”

1 comment:

no Viana do Castelo said...

WHEN A GUY RIDES A 2000 euros BIKE for cameras! Gets more then 100.000 euros in donations and get an office in the most expensive zone in Lisbon, moste be ivestigate.
Shame on this post!