According to food waste charity Feedback, as much as 30 to 50 percent of all food produced globally is wasted every year. At the same time, the latest Global Nutrition Report states that one third of people from around the world are malnourished.
In an effort to restore the balance between the amount of food wasted across the world and the number of people without enough to eat, Michelin-starred Italian chef Massimo Bottura and Brazilian chef and social entrepreneur David Hertz have launched a scheme for surplus food from the Rio Olympic Village to be used to feed the poorest parts of the city.
Named RefettoRio Gastromotiva, the scheme was officially launched on Tuesday and will run throughout the Olympic and Paralympic Games. It aims to use food that would otherwise have been thrown away to serve 5,000 meals every day in the city's favelas, the informal neighbourhoods that house Rio's poorest communities and are witness to much of the country's drug-related violence.
Talking to Reuters, Hertz, who also founded Brazilian social enterprise Gastromotiva, said that RefettoRio will collect usable food that would otherwise have been thrown away, such as "ugly fruit and vegetables, or yogurt that is going to be wasted in two days if you don't buy it."
He added: "Those benefitting will be disadvantaged people including the homeless and others in need. We want to fight hunger and provide access to good food."
It's a rare piece of good food-related news for a Games that has so far seen sport venues run out of food and drink supplies. Children's health campaigners have also branded the event a "carnival of junk food marketing," due to sponsorship details with McDonald's and Coca Cola.
Hertz and Bottura hope that the work of RefettoRio will continue in Rio even after the Games, using waste food from future events to feed the disadvantaged. The initiative will also recruit chefs from underprivileged backgrounds who have graduated through the Gastromotiva culinary programme run by Hertz, and offer community workshops to encourage healthy and sustainable eating.
Talk about an olympic undertaking.