How to distribute groceries to open supermarkets

sustainability Czech Republic: Food to the needy instead of in the trash

People in the Czech capital are satisfied with the new law that bans supermarkets from throwing away food. "The range of products has grown much larger with the law," says Věra Doušová, head of the Prague Food Bank, a kind of Czech table. Above all, there are more fresh products such as milk and yoghurt on offer. At over 70 years of age, Doušová stands at the loading ramp in the grocery bank every day. When food is about to expire, it is picked up from supermarkets and distributed to those in need.

Before this law came into force, we received fewer goods. There were dealers who donated food before, others only started now because of the law. In any case, it's a lot more now.

Věra Doušová, head of the Prague Food Bank

The food bank distributes around ten tons of goods every day. This benefits the needy: homeless people, pensioners or single mothers. Jarka Kramařová is 30 years old and receives a disability pension of 160 euros a month because of heart problems. She gets about three frozen pizzas and something to drink at one of the improvised distribution points in a garage. The food donation will be enough for her for the next five days, she says.

Law with obstacles

The law against food waste has been in place since 2018. The big supermarket chains think it is the wrong way to go. It is said that many had already worked with aid organizations beforehand. In addition, the bureaucracy is increasing. The Czech Constitutional Court rejected a lawsuit against the law in 2019.

The ban as a model for success?

According to their own information, the Czech food banks were able to collect 4,127 tons of food and hygiene products in 2018. Of this, 60 percent came from retail, the rest from government and European programs as well as private donations. Compared to 2017, the amount of goods made available by retail chains has tripled. The value of the rescued food amounted to the equivalent of eleven million euros in 2018. How much can be collected in the current year remains to be seen.

The Czech Republic is not the only country that is taking action against food waste. There are also laws in France, Belgium and Italy that are supposed to restrict the throwing away of food. In Germany, for example, the food sharing movement is raising awareness of how to handle food carefully.