Stockholm based Restauranglabbet works with an intensive focus on innovation in sustainable food and food industry. Food waste was already a central component in their work and with the observed increase of food waste during the Corona pandemic, they shifted their model to cook and deliver healthy and sustainable free meals to healthcare personnel during the crisis.
When I first spoke with Restauranglabbet’s Jenny Ripa she was en route to a delivery. She noted that “There is so much waste at the moment and we don’t have anything else to do since we have no guests so we wanted to do something that could really help people.”
Later speaking with Johan Gottberg, one of the founders, I learned more about how they transformed their model to one of critical food service delivery. Below is a transcription of what he shared via our phone interview.
“We tried to understand how we could become part of the solution for society and at the same time help our employees and friends within the restaurants sector. We are the creative ones, so it is up to us to find new ways to do it. In mid March we realized the impact would have major effect and that we should serve the people who need it most. The easiest ones to identify were health care staff. By reaching out through social media people started to support this group by paying for their lunch.
The hospital staff was so happy when we came with the first delivery of 30 free meals. They explained that many were on sick leave and the ones working were really strained. We heard from suppliers and farmers that thousands of tons of food were going to waste. This is a big problem. This really highlights the need to innovate new systems in food and for restaurants. For us it wasn’t a big change and we wanted to figure out how we can help and this was it.
We later started hearing from friends and contacts in Spain and Italy that if they had this a few weeks ago it would have helped so much. We also want to help elderly people who are in the risk zone. But we are a small company with only a few people. And we cannot deliver to elderly people so we are looking for help with this and also how we can increase production.
The next thing we did was reach out to politicians about next needs and they mentioned if schools would be closed then there would be kids without meals at home as school meals are the only meals some children get per day. We see all the waste from the suppliers and farmers. We create healthy and sustainable meals from the food and food waste we get and then we deliver to those who are really in need for free.Now that we have started, we have realized that it’s the only thing we want to do in this time of crises. I’m part of the delivery team and we go out to hospitals and deliver to the hospital staff and the reaction is amazing. And we are so humbled that so many private citizens have contributed and bought free lunches and dinners to complete strangers. In six days we actually reached 500 meals! If companies start to help out financially we can scale and not only help more people but also protect jobs in other restaurants.” -Johan Gottberg