A place where the public can leave and take saved food free of charge. A Food-Share Point ideally consists of a fridge and a cupboard but can also be only one of the two. The most important requirement is that the food can be accessed by everyone.
How to run a Food-Share Point
Food-Share Points get stocked by individuals who happen to have a surplus of food they cannot eat before it perishes (e. g. before going on vacation or because of mistakenly having bought something they don’t like). Everybody is entitled to take out food without any attached obligation or need of further legitimation.
Every Food-Share Point is managed by a team of local foodsavers. Everybody can organize Food-Share Points and we recommend to build a team of responsible people and at least one head of the operation to keep the overview. This team takes care of cleaning and makes sure that no risky food is shared. (More info on what is classified as risky food further down.)
No-Gos linked to Food-Share Points
- Risky food can pose a health threat and is therefore not fit to be shared via Food-Share Points!
- Never place donation boxes next to a Food-Share Point since the distribution of food is supposed to take place unconditionally! Apart from that, collecting donations can lead to trouble with the authorities if they think that collecting money is one of your main goals and can therefore change your legal status (at least in Germany that is a big issue)!
- Video-surveillance may seem handy in some cases, but it violates the privacy of the people who come and get food as well as the foodsavers’.
- Delicate food can only be shared chilled! This category contains e.g. pasta or potato salads, cakes with creamy fillings or toppings and all food that needs to be stored at +2 to +8°C according to the packaging.
Requirements to an appropriate location
The location needs to be accessible for as many people as possible, ideally for everyone. If spaces are chosen that are somehow linked to party politics or religion we display our statement on politics and religion on the Food-Share Point for everybody to see. To stay true to our distance to party politics, we never use party constituency offices! Locations linked to religion of any kind can only be used if people of different or no faith are also able to reach the Food-Share Point without any problems.
Since the legal situation in every country is different it is very importance, that you check it out beforehand if you don’t want to run into bad surprises! In Germany we had a deal with the authorities to be classified as a private endeavor since we don’t take any money and intend the food to be taken out by individuals on their own accounts. But even after all the talking and bargaining with the German bureaucracy we recently faced some problems we need to figure out now. So be sure to talk to a lawyer or someone who knows the legal circumstances to questions like:
- What happens if somebody gets food poisoning from shared food?
- How can your team of foodsavers be safe from liability issues?
- What does it take for the authorities to close your Food-Share Point and what can you do to prevent that?
But: If a person claims that they got food poisening from food you shared it is up to them to prove that it really was this specific food, which is probably pretty hard to do. Also, if you have the support of the public and maybe some officials, you’re good. Just make sure everything runs smoothly, your Food-Share Point is always nice and clean and that nobody hates you.
You should be aware of the fact that foodsaving in this way is a pretty new phenomenon, and that there is no perfect legal framework for it. We are pioneers who do things that have not been done before - in such situations there always is some kind of risk. Just ask yourself: Is it worth it for you?
Information to be printed out and displayed at the Food-Share Point.
The rules sheet and the cleaning rota should be visible and respected at every Food-Share Point, whereas the statement on politics and religion only needs to be put up if the nature of the location requires clarification on those topics.
Statement on politics and religion
foodsharing comes from a political background but is not affiliated with any political party or religious organization. We refute any claims to the contrary.
foodsharing does not tolerate inhuman, racist, discriminatory, sexist or destructive behaviour.
The religious or political background of individual volunteers is disregarded, as we are united with the vision of saving food.
We assert that foodsharing is a form of free action with the aim of preventing food waste, posessed by all human beings from birth.
Easily perishable foods and drinks that have a potentially high risk of noxious effects and are therefore not fit to be shared in a Food-Share Point.
Ground pork, minced beef
Always be extra careful with meat and fish! But when it comes to the ground or minced variants of these animal products, we think that not even cautiousness is enough, so please don’t share those!
Products made from unheated raw milk
This refers to raw milk cheese like mozzarella, camembert, feta or Harz cheese. Some types of hard cheese are also made from raw milk, but the long maturing time kills most of the possibly dangerous bacteria so hard cheese can be shared via Food-Share Points. In old times dairy products like yoghurt, curd and cottage cheese were made from raw milk as well, but today the industry uses almost always pasteurized milk, that was briefly heated up to high temperatures. All products made from pasteurized milk are sharable.
Homemade dishes containing raw egg
Raw egg is extremely attractive to germs and homemade puddings, creams and mayos can quickly become a health hazard. Industrially produced egg-based food is made to last longer, treated in various sophisticated ways to reach that goal and therefore can be shared via Food-Share Points.
Due to heavy regulations in most countries and huge potential health risks alcohol and other drugs are not to be distributed via Food-Share Points or foodsharing in general.
Even more things…?
Since we approach this subject from a German/European perspective, there may be kinds of food we don’t even think about, but which may be common in your area and as delicate as the ones mentioned above. We also can not foresee how big of an impact the maybe very different climate in your region may have, so please be aware, that this list is not necessarily finished and should be only used as a starting point for you to work with. Meaning: Extend it as you see fit so that it can do justice to your circumstances!
Unconditional sharing describes that something (in our case food) will be given to others without expecting anything in return.
In the case of foodsharing, unconditional sharing of food means
- giving it to friends and family
- sharing it with your neighbours
- creating a food basket on an online platform, so interested people can pick up the food at your place
- bringing it to local Food-Share Points
- bringing it to where it is needed in your area (e.g. refugee camps, shelters for the homeless, the salvation army, deaconries, etc.)
The foodsavers themselves can keep as much food as they can make use of and share the rest with other people on their own accord. We wish the sharing to be as sustainable as possible. That means that unnecessarily far trips for the sole purpose of picking up food should be avoided and that going by foot or by bike is better than using fueled vehicles. It can be useful though to take a car if you have plenty of food to pick up and a cargo bike is not spacious enough or not available.
Sharing and neediness
Our kind of sharing is unconditional which means, that nobody has to be needy in any kind of way to get food from us. The main focus is definitely the prevention of waste. It is not important, who eats the food, as long as it does not end up in a bin! In some countries there is a legal definition on who counts as a ‘person in need’, but we distance ourselves from any judgement in that regard, since we don’t arrogate to decide who is more needy or which projects are more worth supporting. It is not our scope and not at all our goal to judge people willing to save food regarding their level of neediness. We also want to avoid the risk of stigmatisiation linked to any declaration as ‘needy’. Therefore, anyone regardless of their origin, social status or belief may recieve saved food from us.
Actions contradictory to the idea of unconditional sharing of food
Selling saved food is strictly forbidden! This would highly contradict the main idea of foodsharing. It is also not allowed to accept donations for the provided food. Greediness leading to excessive storage, or even with the consequence of saved food rotting and having to be thrown away after all, also stands opposite to the idea of unconditional sharing.
Always try to behave along the lines of:
Only take what you need!
Share with others!
Make sure the food gets eaten!