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SUR+ bridging food waste and food poverty

SUR+ uses digital tools to connect farmers with a surplus of crops and local food banks, preventing food waste, decreasing food poverty.

Photo of Fiona Jongejans
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In the Netherlands, 4.6 billion euro's of food are wasted every year. 2.6 billion is wasted by consumers, but another 2.0 billion never even reaches our homes and is wasted in the food chain. Research shows that between 1 and 10% of all fruits and vegetables are never sold because of beauty regulations: bended cucumbers, two-coloured peppers and ugly apples. Wonky fruits and vegetables are considered waste in our society, while they are perfectly edible! And while they are wasted, the production of them does increase the emission of more greenhouse gasses, costs water for irrigation, land use and increases the loss of biodiversity. 

At the same time, 1.4 million people are living below the poverty line. They do not have sufficient and healthy food on their daily menu. The national association Dutch Food Banks hands out about 100.000 free food packages every week to help these people. But at this moment they are only able to help 7% of the people, because not enough food is donated and available for this charity. 

Isn't it ridiculous that so much healthy food is wasted while there are so many people in need of this food? 

The SUR+ project is trying to bridge this gap between food waste and food poverty. We are a team of young and creative entrepreneurs in the south of The Netherlands. At this point, farmers and food banks are not finding each other because it is very hard to find the right person, set up a collaboration and adjust it every time to the dynamics of food production for supermarkets. Within the SUR+ project we are developing digital applications that support farmers and food banks in building their collaboration, making it very easy for farmers to notify food banks if surplus crops are available and creating automated connections based on the amount of crops. 

The SUR+ project is currently running a pilot phase in the area of the city of Eindhoven. But at the beginning of 2016 we want to make the SUR+ applications available in the entire country. And this is why we need your help!! How do we tell the story of food waste and food poverty as strongly as possible? How do we convince the agricultural sector to change their behaviour and to assign value to their waste? 

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Photo of Fiona Jongejans

Hi Matt Ridenour, thank you for your comment and questions. SUR+ is indeed my own project, I am working in a team with three other young entrepreneurs and we have partnerships with a software company and national association Dutch Food Banks. Storytelling and outreach is definitely our biggest challenge right now. We are finding it really difficult to reach the agricultural sector in The Netherlands, since it is quite a conventional and old-fashioned sector. So the first big challenge is really REACHING them. After that, the second challenge comes in: Farmers are very attached to their routine lifestyle and it is very difficult to convince them of this more holistic and sustainable goal for which they will have to change (although just 5 minutes) of their daily routine. So this second challenge is much more about how we tell our story... Hope this explains the challenges a bit more and answers your questions?!

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