Refood Portimão already has an operations center to «reach everyone in need»

Refood Portimão currently supports 160 people, but there are several families on the waiting list

Photo: Mariana Carriço | Sul Informação

Fighting food waste, rescuing surpluses to help those who need it most: an idea that, to many, must seem “so simple and basic, but at the same time so brilliant”. This is the main objective of Refood, which was born more than 10 years ago in Lisbon, but quickly reached other parts of the country, such as Portimão, where a physical operations center was recently opened.

It is on Rua da Hortinha, in a space provided by Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Portimão, that Refood's 55 volunteers are now better able to package and package the food they collect from partners and then deliver it to families in need. Here, everything was donated, from the refrigerators to the packaging.

Refood Portimão's path began in 2017, when a group of around half a dozen people came together to help those who needed it most in the city. Two years later, the nucleus was born.

«Until now, as we did not yet have an operations center, we collected and delivered directly to families at agreed meeting points. Now, we are going to bring the things here and they will be collected here by the families», explains Catarina Martins, one of the coordinators of Refood Portimão.

Involved in the project since the beginning, the 33-year-old volunteer, a pharmacist by profession, tells Sul Informação This whole initiative to rescue food that was going to waste to be delivered to families who don't have anything to eat has always fascinated her. So much so that, in 2022, she resigned and started working for Too Good To Go, as an account manager, an application that connects customers to restaurants and stores that have unsold surplus food.

This is, therefore, the work he combines with volunteering at Refood.

 

Photo: Mariana Carriço | Sul Informação

 

«At the moment, we have helped 160 people, but we have more than a dozen families on the waiting list, a list that has been increasing since 2022. Until now, we were limited in our partners, because, with the operation we had set up, we were unable to expand. From now on, we have better conditions to welcome more partners and we are also making contacts in this regard. Therefore, any establishment that has a surplus can always talk to us», emphasizes Catarina Martins.

And who is looking for this type of help?

Questioned by Sul Informação, Catarina reveals that «the number of requests for help has never been so great» and that, currently, there are many immigrant families in need, but also elderly people who do not have support, and single-parent families.

«Our goal is also to rehabilitate these people in some way, because those who have to worry about food insecurity won't be able to do other things either. We already have some successful situations, people who managed, thanks to our support, to return to work, ensuring that their children study. And here we are also in contact with other institutions for an integrated support network,” he says.

At the moment, Refood Portimão has volunteers between 12 and 86 years old.

«There are always parents who bring their children and it is great to see this dynamic, but, as our work is 100% voluntary, we are always in need of more people».

Currently, Refood Portimão has five partners: Continente, Aldi, Mel and Canela, with two locations, and Food & Company, but Catarina says that work is also being done to find more, so that it is possible to respond to the list waiting for supported people.

 

Photo: Mariana Carriço | Sul Informação

 

For anyone interested in supporting (as a partner, volunteer or with some donations), Catarina explains that all you need to do is get in touch via social media, so they can explain how everything works.

The Municipality of Portimão has also made itself available to help with «some missing material».

«This is on the first floor and, therefore, one of the things we are looking at with the Chamber is a freight elevator that will help us lift the products up here. Another thing we still don't have, and it would be very useful, is our own transport, because we don't have a van and all the things we pick up have to be in our cars. We also need an industrial washing machine to disinfect the containers».

In relation to volunteers, he emphasizes that, «although this is a commitment», there is complete freedom for each person to define the days and times in which they can help.

«Weekly stopovers are made depending on each person's availability and that is how we organize ourselves», he continues.

In the Algarve, Refood has centers in Albufeira, Almancil, Faro, Lagos, Portimão, Tavira, Vila Real de Santo António and, soon, Olhão.

 

Photos: Mariana Sedge | Sul Informação

 

 

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