About a month ago, Taste Before You Waste participated in an event aiming to turn something as bad as waste food into something as important as essentials for those in need. It started when we were approached by five super motivated students from Amsterdam University College, determined to act upon the critical situation of the refugees camping in the French Calais, also referred to as the “Jungle”.
The name of the camp may in itself be almost intimidating. You may be picturing an environment of chaos, misery and suffering. To be honest, you’re not so far from the reality of it. With almost 10,000 refugees, originating from various countries and backgrounds, crammed into small makeshift tents, the situation was one of insecurity and instability. Indeed, the media is good at generalizing a group of people, and portraying the negative aspects of the situation. What is not shown, however, is the energy that flows through the camp, the drive that the refugees have and use to turn their dreams of achieving a better life into a reality. Thus, when French authorities announced the dismantling of the camp, thoughts immediately went out to the inhabitants of the Jungle that would soon be deprived of even the most basic form of shelter and provisions. In addition to this, mass flooding had weakened the ground and destroyed tents.
A team of students came up with a collaboration plan with TBYW, and named it Cake4Calais, referring to a volunteer charity called Care4Calais. The concept they envisioned was simple: to bake and sell vegan pastries at the Amsterdam University College (AUC), all made from waste food donated by the grocery stores around Amsterdam East. The lack of ingredient costs allowed us to raise as much money as possible and could then be donated to an organization called l’Auberge des Migrants, which is a French humanitarian aid organization supporting the refugees in Calais.
So, on Sunday the 25th of September, we all met at eleven in the morning to start baking. We collected food that would otherwise go to waste with the TBYW carrier bike, and then worked with whatever was donated by the various stores around Amsterdam East. Almost eleven hours of chopping bread, bananas, mixing dough and trying out new combinations, we produced about ten banana breads, three peach pies, vegan brownies, about a hundred savory bruschetta-balls and a range of gluten-free options. Ultimately, it had been no less than a fun day spent together while exchanging stories, singing, dancing, and baking cakes for a good cause.
The Cake4Calais bake sale was set up the next morning at the Amsterdam University College, and the response from the AUC community was amazing. Students, management, and faculty enthusiastically contributed and bought pastries such that we were completely sold out within three hours. With the help of motivated volunteers and generous buyers, Cake4Calais raised both consciousness about food waste and over 500 euros! The money was directly sent to l’Auberge des Migrants to offer instant support to the refugees in the Calais Jungle. With this project, we also tried to demonstrate what can be achieved with almost no financial resources, but some creativity and motivation instead!
Ellen Ackroyd, Nini Pieters, and Eva Borkhuis