By Kacper Pempel
When I started working on a story about food waste, I was shocked by the estimates provided by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization that 1.3 billion tonnes of food – equivalent to the amount produced by the whole of sub-Saharan Africa – is wasted every year.
That is why I started thinking of ways to prevent such waste and it’s what led me to a food bank organization and to a volunteer who works for them in Bronisze agricultural market, not far from Warsaw.
Wanda is a 71-year-old volunteer who collects food, mostly vegetables, for Food Bank SOS, which then distributes it to charity organizations. I’d met her twice at Bronisze market, where she was walking around and pushing her cart between farmers, asking them if they had any goods for charity.
She has a strong character and understands how to deal with the vendors, who have known her for nine years. In many cases, the food the farmers give to Wanda would not go on sale and would end up going to waste. Sometimes, however, they can be quite hesitant to give her their produce and they tell her to come a couple of days later when the vegetables are not fresh enough to sell to their customers.
One of the charities that receives food from Food Bank SOS is Camilian Mission homeless shelter, a place of around 120 residents where I had the chance to take more pictures to illustrate my story. I was at the shelter when food was prepared and served there. It is always hard to take photos of people who have lost their homes. As I expected, not all of them wanted to have their faces shown in my pictures, but we started to talk and I explained the story I was working on. They knew that often the food they are served was intended for the garbage. Nevertheless, they said that the meals still looked fresh and tasty.