Solidarity baskets reduce both food insecurity and waste

Posted on 12 December 2019.

At the end of the Wazemmes market in Lille the La Tente des Glaneurs not-for-profit collects and redistributes unsold produce free of charge. A good example of how to fight food insecurity and waste at the same time.

Every Sunday since 2010 on the Wazemmes market in Lille, La Tente des Glaneurs volunteers redistribute a solidarity basket free of charge – it’s filled with fruit, vegetables, bread, and even flowers - to people living with food insecurity who don’t necessarily qualify for food aid.

According to figures from the latest Ipsos survey for the Secours Populaire Français, one in five French people can’t afford to eat enough healthy, well-balanced food. As the study points out, households with financial difficulties are increasingly making savings by cutting back on their food budget.

Jean-Loup Lemaire, a former fine dining chef, created La Tente des Glaneurs to fight food insecurity. Redistributed food is collected in the morning at the end of the market from traders and the public, or is "saved" from supermarket garbage dumpsters.The concept of La Tente des Glaneurs is based on fairness and dignity. It focuses on those people (homeless, retired, poor but employed, students, single-parent families, etc.) who don’t make use of food aid organizations such as Restos du Coeur, either because they don’t meet the income criteria or because they are too embarrassed.


Fighting for dignity

People often feel ashamed to ask for food aid. Jean-Loup Lemaire therefore looked for a way for the people concerned to experience a sense of self-worth. His idea was to combine the fight against food waste, a very hot topic for society as a whole, with the fight against food insecurity.

So instead of coming to ask for a food donation, beneficiaries feel valued because they are part of a sustainable development movement. Nearly 1.4 metric tons of unsold food is recovered every Sunday at the Wazemmes market.

Alongside its redistribution and food solidarity campaigning activities, the Lille-based not-for-profit offers food-themed cultural activities and tasting sessions using recovered products. The concept has now been copied and people are setting up tents all over France. The next challenge for the La Tente des Glaneurs? Creating a national network.