Cheap sustainability-lunches are blazing a trail towards less food waste and more community

27 February 2023

Interior image from a restaurant kitchen full of activity.

In the kitchen of the Student Union in Visby, low-cost lunches are being prepared from waste-smart food from the island's supermarkets. The project was started with support from the University.

Last year a new initiative was started on Gotland with the aim of reducing food waste and at the same time increasing the availability of sustainable, good-value food. Every week cheap lunches are served that are made with ingredients from local supermarkets that otherwise would have gone to waste. The project has received funding from the University's climate pot and has attracted new visitors to the student union.

A stones throw away from Campus Gotland in Visby you can find Gotland's Student Union Rindi. Here, decently priced meals are prepared and served every Thursday. The meals are made from ingredients nearing their best-before date or with cosmetic defects. Behind the project "Campus Gotland Community Kitchen" are a group of former students with an interest in sustainability. Now their vision of saving food has been put into practice in a big way.

food on a plate
Today´s dish "deconstructed burritio" served
at the student union in Visby. Foto: Daniel Olsson

”Did you feel what a great atmosphere there was at lunch today? It's fantastic to be able to work with this. It's perfect for us to be here at Rindi, there is even a fully-equipped kitchen that was just standing here unused”, says Orsolya Demes who is responsible for student welfare issues at Gotland's student union and one of the founders of the project.

Orsolya and her colleagues have just finished serving "deconstructed burrito" with bread and salad to more than 60 guests. For dessert they served a persimmon pie with whipped cream. The menu and price varies based on the ingredients available. Today's lunch cost 60 SEK.

”We are sold out every time. We now hope that we can expand our cooperation and get even more shops and suppliers involved. That would make it easier for us to plan our activities. As it is now we set the menu the day before. You have to be creative”, says Fie Brooker-Bulling, project leader and doctoral student at the University's research school within sustainable development.

Three women with their arms around each others shoulders.
Fie Brooker-Bulling, Leonie Paul and Orsolya Demes were all previously masters students at Campus Gotland who started the food waste project. A lot of work is done by volunteers. Photo: Daniel Olsson.

Financed through funding from the climate pot

The project ”Campus Gotland Community Kitchen” is financed with funding from Uppsala University's climate pot. The funding contributes to the costs of salaries and ingredients as well as some equipment. The initiative is built upon a cooperation with local producers and supermarkets that offer waste-smart food at a reduced cost. The ingredients are collected each week with a bike trailer. Sustainability is the guiding word for everything they do, both big and small.

Fie and Orsolya explain that the vision with the food-waste restaurant goes further than the end of the project period. The aim is to carry on even in the autumn. To achieve this the project would need to be self-funding.

”This project has really lifted the atmosphere and activities at the student union and has become a natural meeting place for students, university employees and the general public. It feels important to be able to demonstrate tangible solutions for food and food waste. And of course it is always popular when you can offer a cheaper alternative.”

About Uppsala University's climate pot

Uppsala University's climate pot was established in 2020 as a way of strengthening and renewing efforts to reduce climate impact. Projects and initiatives that contributed to reducing the University's climate impact could apply for funding of up to 250 000 SEK inbetween 2020 and 2022. Initiatives which focused on new ways of thinking and creativity where especially encouraged to apply.

Project funding could be applied for by University employees, students or organisational units within Uppsala University. Campus Gotland Community Kitchen was one of seven projects that were granted funding for the academic year 2022/2023.

Facts about food waste

  • A third of all food produced in the world is not eaten.
  • Each kilogram of food waste has resulted in 1.6 kg of CO2 emissions during production.
  • Every year Swedish households throw away about 15 kg of edible food per person, on top of this they pour away 18 kg of food and drink in the kitchen sink.
  • Of the total emissions of greenhouse gases in the world, food waste accounts for 8-10 percent.
  • Even if food waste can be used to make biogas it is much better for the environment if the food that is thrown away wasn't produced in the first place.

Source: The Swedish Food Agency, The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.

Last modified: 2021-02-04