Remaining food is often a burden on restaurant kitchens, so why not give it to those who need it instead of letting it spoil? Restaurateurs should help people in need; they can afford it.

It can seem frightening to offer prepared food to those on the streets. First of all, it could entail health risks. Yet, many restaurants forget, as the French Health Department has said, that “Once the food is given, it is the person or the beneficiary associated that is responsible for preserving the product.”

Another worry that restrains giving to the homeless is the fear that they will start begging in front of a restaurant. This could anger customers. The solution is to give to the charities, housing associations, or emergency groups. Then we customers have our doggie bag: This could become a solution to reducing food waste as well as distributing it on-site to the most deprived of the city.

In France, several restaurants have followed the idea of distributing unsold goods to the homeless. Solidarity in a Parisian neighborhood is mobilizing for them. Valentine Davase, chef of Le Réfectoire, cooks all the unsold food during her days off. She contacted all her restaurant friends, who, after their Sunday shifts, cook up to 200 hot meals with fresh produce that went unsold. They serve the meals to the people who live on the street, who eat very little or very badly.

Last February 3, the French Senate adopted a new law to prevent supermarkets from throwing away good food. Instead, it will be given to whoever is in need, chosen by organizations, or however the market feels is fit.

In India, Minu Pauline, the owner of the restaurant Pappadavada in the port city of Kochi, has placed a fridge in front of her restaurant. Every day she places her unsold dishes there. This idea came to her when she saw homeless people going through her trash cans, looking for food every single day.

Similarly, in Argentina, on the pavements in front of restaurants are many fridges filled with prepared meals. This allows the victims of the Argentine crisis to avoid searching the garbage of the city.

What do our Santa Barbara restaurants do with their unconsumed food? It may be time to follow these few examples of what different countries do for their people and to stop wasting so much food. Let’s give it to people in need.

“There is nothing in the world as powerful as an idea whose time has come.” —Victor Hugo

Sonia Kermen ( has been in love with cooking her whole life and shares her passion as a private French chef who also offers cooking lessons.


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