Making Wasted Uneaten Food a Thing of the Past in Argentina

Voluntarios del proyecto Plato Lleno. Imagen usada con autorización.

Volunteers with Proyecto Plato Lleno. Image used with permission.

The Proyecto Plato Lleno (Full Plate Project) is a volunteer initiative in Argentina that rescues unconsumed food at different events, receptions, and parties that would otherwise end up in the trash bin. The group has already collected 24,000 kilos (26.5 tons) of food, which has gone to fill 48,000 plates and the same number of hungry bellies.

The project started during a chat between two friends. Alexis Vidal, an event designer, and Paula Martino, who worked at a sustainable events agency, realized that there is a lot of unconsumed food that's thrown away when events have finished, so they decided to do something about it. The result was the Full Plate Project, created in 2013.

According to the project's Facebook page:

El proyecto surge como consecuencia de una alianza […] para organizar eventos con enfoque sustentable, ante la pregunta “¿Qué podríamos hacer con la comida que no se llega a consumir en los eventos -que es muchísima- y que termina siempre en la basura?”

Poco a poco fueron dando forma a este Proyecto de carácter 100% solidario para que la comida elaborada que no llega a consumirse en cada evento pueda ser destinada a Hogares, Comedores, Instituciones, etc, la clave para lograrlo era…VOLUNTAD!

The project is the product of an alliance […] to organize events with a sustainable approach, to the question “what could we do with the food that nobody eats at events (and there is a lot of it) that always ends up in the trash bin?”

Little by little, this 100-percent volunteer project came together, so prepared food that goes uneaten at various events can be sent to institutions, diners, and so on. The key for that was … THE WILL TO DO IT!

Imagen usada con autorización

Packed before being delivered. Image used with permission.

As they told the Argentinian newspaper La Nación, the project's volunteers “arrive during a party, pack what's been cooked but not consumed, and then they take it directly to social institutions, so it can be delivered as soon as possible or frozen to be delivered later.”

Besides Buenos Aires, the project is also active in Mendoza, La Plata, and Posadas. The Mendoza group started to operate in October, when four residents heard of the initiative that started in the Argentinian capital, and they decided to bring it to their province. In their very first night of volunteering, they rescued 30 kilos (66 pounds) of food, which helped feed 60 people, in a matter of just hours.

The project's representatives told the news site Elsol:

El grupo […] se presenta en un evento y realizan un operativo en el que el cuidado de la comida es el factor principal. Los voluntarios llevan la vestimenta apropiada para la tarea (cofias, barbijos, etcétera) y los platos son envasados al vacío para que luego se los deposite en una conservadora. Luego, la comida se entrega a un comedor previamente contactado por Plato Lleno.

The group […] shows up at an event and carries out an operation where taking care of the food is the main factor. The volunteers wear the adequate garment for the activity (caps, face masks, and so on), the plates are vacuum-packed, and then they are placed in a refrigerator. Then, the food is delivered to a kitchen that has been previously contacted by the project.

The packing process for any food collected is very rigorous, as you can see from the following pamphlet on the project's “Rules of Packing”:


[1. Put on the cap, the facemask. and the apron. 2. Locate, clear .and clean up the workspace. 3. Place in your workspace all your gear. 4. Wash your hands. 5. Put on gloves. 6. Start the initial packing process with minimal risk for food. 7. Start the final packaging. 8. Seal the containers and prepare to take them to the vehicle. 9. Dispose of gloves and masks. 10. Wash your hands.] Image used with permission.

This animated video below demonstrates how the project treats all rescued food. Notice that most of the activity presented is carried out at night, so recipients can have the food early the next morning:

The project also uses Twitter to share its work and activities:

Join us!
Now you can join us as a food rescuer with your debit card!!!
You can monthly rescue: 1 kilo/$24; 2 kilos/$48; 5 kilos/$120.
It's easy: e-mail us at your banking information and how many kilos you want to rescue.
The amount will be automatically debited from your account.

Can you help us so Full Plate can keep on working?

Do you have a restaurant and don't know what to do with uneaten food? We want to tell you that you can collaborate.

Project Full Plate is a support initiative carried out by volunteers with the ultimate purpose of preventing the waste of food that goes uneaten at events.
Our aim is try to give a use to excess food that would otherwise end up in the trash!

Don't dispose of food.

In Mendoza, people rescue food to help kitchens.

In 2015, the prevalence of undernourishment in Argentina was below 5 percent of the population, according to latest State of Food Insecurity in the World report by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization. Nevertheless, the Catholic University of Argentina’s Social Observatory points out that two in ten Argentinian children were still malnourished in 2015, and half of these kids suffer from “severe food insecurity”—a situation occurring primarily in low-income households in small villages, according to the Panam Post newspaper.

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