New platform turns surplus vegetables into soup for Antwerp schools in Belgium

New platform turns surplus vegetables into soup for Antwerp schools in Belgium

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On the 31st of January, EIT Food, Sense, Rikolto, Special Fruit, Growzer and Groothandel Claessens launched a pilot project for soup at school, with the support of the city of Antwerp in Belgium. With this project, students from De Spectrumschool in Deurne and the two school establishments of the Instituut Maris Stella – Sint-Agnes (IMS) can enjoy tasty soup twice a week. “It’s a win-win scenario: our pupils get healthy food at a reasonable price, and at the same time we save food from the waste mountain”, says Dimitri Meurrens, headteacher of the IMS.

In our current food system, an estimated 30-40% of food goes to waste. Some of it is perfectly edible. So why waste food because it is not the right colour or shape, or is close to its expiry date? In response to this food waste, EIT Food and hospitality management software company Growzer launched the Get Wasted platform to give this food a new purpose.

The online circular marketplace allows wholesalers to offer residual flows of vegetables at attractive prices to the social economy, who in turn process them into soups that are then delivered to schools and retirement homes, for example.

In this first pilot phase, matchmaking is still done manually, and only small-scale testing takes place. "For waste streams, there is currently no Business-to-Business outlet market and there are no logistics flows," explains Yana Pannecoucke of EIT Food. "For all these challenges, together with the partners in the project, we are gradually looking for feasible solutions. We are now starting with the production of soups for Antwerp schools. Soon there will be more."

Pilot phase for 420 pupils

The IMS sees this project as an excellent opportunity to offer its pupils healthy soups and smoothies at two locations. Dimitri Meurrens, headteacher of IMS: "Eat good, feel good. We want to give all the pupils at our school the chance to eat healthy and thus feel better too."

The pilot project started the week of 24 January 2022. The two branches of the school received soup made from the residual streams of tomatoes prepared in the Den Bell kitchen by the social economy enterprise Sense. Some 300 pupils have already tasted the scoop.

It is not limited to supply alone. EIT Food and Rikolto also provide an educational component in the project. "Through lessons and workshops in the schools and practical visits to our partners, we familiarise pupils with food surpluses, local producers and the social economy," says Myrthe Peijnenborg of Rikolto. This way, we provide the schools with quality food and added educational value.

School is a crucial place to nourish both minds and stomachs. "Future eating behaviour is largely determined during the early years. If you know how much food goes to waste and then you also learn how to make a tasty dish with surpluses, the solution is nearby", says Myrthe Peijnenborg of Rikolto.

Besides buying soup, it is also possible for schools to buy surplus fruit and vegetables directly through Get Wasted. Next week, De Spectrumschool in Deurne will be the first official user of the platform to purchase surplus and process it into soup for 120 first-grade students.

"We notice that for many of our youth, it is not easy to bring healthy food to school every day.De Spectrumschool can take care of that through this project. Following the healthy breakfast that we regularly offer our youngsters, this way we can also provide a healthy lunch at noon," says Sonja Wellens, deputy headteacher of De Spectrumschool.

A story from Antwerp with potential

In the coming months, all partners have the ambition to process surplus vegetables and fruits into soups and smoothies for schools on a larger scale in Antwerp. This will give more wholesalers and producers the opportunity to offer their fruit and vegetable surpluses through the Get Wasted platform.

"Every day, food is lost in the world because it is not aesthetically perfect or because demand does not match supply, and vice versa. With perishable products such as fruit and vegetables, the chance is even greater, and we try to create as little waste as possible. EIT Food offers us the opportunity to prevent the waste of residual flows and to create a positive social impact. Together with our partner, Groothandel Claessens, we can offer a selection of fruit and vegetables that would otherwise often go to waste. This circular idea is essential to our vision", says Koen Maes of Special Fruit.

GoodFood@School is one of the 5 flagship initiatives in our Food Smart Cities. The ambition of the programme is to build bridges for sustainable, inclusive, and resilient food in cities

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If the Get Wasted platform grows further, it can also be used for customers other than schools, to avoid food losses on a larger scale.

Belgian schools that are interested can already register through Rikolto to participate in the next phases of the pilot project. Producers, wholesalers with food surpluses and food processing companies can also participate in the project. They can contact Yana Pannecoucke of EIT Food.

Interested in partnering up? Contact us!

Myrthe Peijnenborg
Myrthe Peijnenborg
Program Advisor GoodFood@School
+32 16 31 65 90

This project was made possible thanks to the support of: