Zero Food Waste Heroes: food movers and rescuers amidst the pandemic

Zero Food Waste Heroes: food movers and rescuers amidst the pandemic

23 Jul, 2020

On the third day after President Duterte declared lockdown in Metro Manila, AGREA Founding Farmer, President and CEO, Cherrie Atilano, received a call for help from a group of Agrarian Reform farmers - they needed to sell 15,000 pineapples. Due to the limitations posed by the quarantine situation, these pineapple farmers cannot move and sell their produce, and worse, all of it will be thrown away. I could not sleep that night knowing that 15,000 pineapples will fill landfills instead of stomachs.

The farmers who called Cherrie were not the only ones facing this challenge. Both upland and lowland vegetable farmers in Luzon tapped AGREA for the same reason: to move and sell their produce to the consumers. At the same time, consumers were also challenged in ensuring food supply for their families. Food shelves in supermarkets and stalls in wet markets were scarce to empty as people were buying more than enough to ensure food on their tables.

RELATED READ: Gardening contest inspires a community to grow food amid the COVID-19 pandemic

With this, Cherrie mobilized the AGREA Team and their network to work on the Move Food Initiative. Through this online fresh food ordering platform, we ensure to move food at both producers and consumers end. Cherrie and the AGREA team took a leap of faith and trust.

What we’ve moved

AGREA is glad to share that we have helped move 6,000 pieces of those pineapples from the partner-farmers who called. As of 22 July 2020, Move Food Initiative was able to move 174, 073 kilos of vegetables and fruits, supporting 16, 732 Filipino farmers, and ensuring food of 69, 427 families. The initiative has also partnered with and donated to 10 community kitchens feeding 4,594 front liners.

This milestone and food we’ve moved are all in collaboration and great work with the partner-farmers we have. These farming groups are both duly registered, and smallholder farmers.

PINEAPPLE HEROES. We are glad to share that we have helped move 6,000 pieces of those pineapples from our partner-farmers who called Cherrie.

One of our partner-farmers has been able to pay his loan in a bank, and pay his child’s school fees. One farming association has been able to pay their loan in the bank. Our partner-farmers in Mindanao are able to provide good food for their families in spite of the lock down.

These are the some of the experiences of farmers we have assisted. We were able to help and assist them through our fair-trade approach of moving their harvest to the market, and providing logistical support.

The AGREA Move Food Initiative Team

We are happy to answer the call for help, ensure continued decent work for our partner-farmers this time where movement is limited, and prevent their harvest from being wasted.

The real heroes rescuing food

Since we are dealing with fresh fruits and vegetable that are highly perishable, we shoulder the risks of it from getting wasted. In our online ordering platform, not all fruits and veggies can be sold at their best and freshest state. We then had to go back to the drawing board, (more like the kitchen), not to reinvent the wheel but to rescue food.

In Move Food Initiative, our zero-waste heroes do not wear capes… but aprons. They transform ugly fruits and vegetables into artisanal and nutritious food, and they also give second chances to food that may likely fill landfills instead of filling stomachs.

ALSO READ: Jobs, food and nutrition: The Philippines’ pivot to invest in agriculture

These zero-waste heroes are our innovative and expert chefs from AGREA Rescue Kitchen (ARK), they make great meals that are healthy and “Seasonal, Artisanal, Intentional, and Limited” (or SAIL). The kitchen was inspired by our initiative to provide food for 4, 594 front liners, and reach 69, 427 Filipino families.

They innovate every day to ensure our zero food waste operations. These innovative and expert chefs lost their jobs because of the COVID-19 challenge. Now, they have decent jobs by being the zero food waste heroes of our initiative.

AGREA is a strong believer of zero waste and closed-loop system in our operations. That’s why we introduce value-addition to fruits and vegetables that may likely go to waste.

AGREA Rescue Kitchen also makes healthy and nutritious food: soups, sauces, sandwiches, jams, and meals.

(Left) Two of our bests: Pomodoro Sauce and Mango Jam. (Right) The all-time favorite funwich, with real fruits.

(Left) You should try our broccoli soup! (Right) Healthy grilled vegetable sandwiches.

(Left) All healthy and great goodies from our AGREA Rescue Kitchen. (Right) Our Sugar, Spice, and Everything Rice Set.

AGREA Rescue Kitchen innovates everyday to save food from our partner-farmers, and impact more people even in these trying times. For every one of us, food is life. And like farmers and fisherfolks, food for chefs and kitchen crew is their life’s work.

Know more about the Move Food Initiative by visiting our Facebook page.