„Save our Food“ - Methodists in Davos launch a project against „Food Waste“

Two pastors in Davos have launched „Save our Food”, a project that prevents food from being thrown away. The echoes were very positive. And the two already have plans how they can even expand the ministry.
Stefan Pfister, United Methodist pastor in Davos, and Mathias Marmet, pastor of the local Pentecostal congregation, started to speak years ago about how they could do something against the waste of food. At the beginning of 2019, they started to develop more detailed plans, which they finally could implement in June. It was a great experience when they, for the first time, could offer people in the neighborhood food that they had received from a close super market.
In order to realize their idea, the two pastors had invited interested people to an informal presentation in early March. Only eight people accepted the invitation, but they were highly motivated. This was the first step of the foundation of the association „Save our Food“. At the same time, Pfister and Marmet got in touch with another association with similar aims. This did not only further inspire them but also provided them with very practical ideas how they could launch such a project in Davos. In addition, they began to talk to local retailers to win them for the project. The two largest supermarkets did not want to participate for a variety of reasons. But two they found two supermarkets that were willing to cooperate.
In June 2019, the United Methodist Church in Davos offered, for the first time, food to be picked-up by those who need it. In Switzerland, packed food is usually marked with two dates: “to be sold before…” and “best consumed before…” The food that is given away has already passed the date “to be sold before…”, which means that the supermarket cannot sell it anymore, but the date «best consumed before…” has not yet been reached.
Unlike other similar projects, there are no restrictions in regard to who may take food with him or her. The food is offered to all – for free. Interested people learn about the offer through a specific Facebook page or through the newsletter of the association.
In the meantime, the offer is already well accepted: most food is gone quickly. And the reactions in the local press, on the Facebook page and in personal encounters are very positive.
In the future, the two pastors plan to make food accessible in a refrigerator next to the United Methodist Church building. Stefan Pfister and Mathias Marmet are also in contact with those responsible for „social services“ in Davos. The two pastors aim to involve people receiving social assistance in the project, for instance by commission them with taking over the cleaning work or with making sure that no food with an expired date “best consumed before…” is given away. In addition, the two are momentarily exploring whether people seeking for asylum could be integrated in the project in a similar way.
Pfister and Marmet also plan to write a „save-our-food“ blog for the Davos newspaper. When they proposed this idea to the editors, they also found open doors.
The two pastors even have further plans: Pfister, while working several times at the World Economic Forum (WEF), had noticed the food prepared for consumption, had sometimes not been offered at all because it had simply been too much. Rather then, it had been thrown away. For this reason, the two pastors aim to implement the idea of organizing a daily „Food Festival“ – an event where everybody can enjoy the food that has been prepared but never found its way to a buffet or on the tables. Whatever people would pay for the food would be donated towards a food project in Africa, Asia, or Latin America. A first contact with Alois Zwinggi, the Managing Director of WEF, proved to be positive and hopeful. Zwinggi indicated that he would like to further talk to both of them about their idea.
„I am really astonished what developed from our idea, and I am overwhelmed because of the positive response,” says pastor Stefan Pfister, looking at the current development of the project. He is pleased that the Pentecostal congregation and the United Methodist congregation do not only show how people can be better stewards of the resources of creation, but that they also can offer hope to people, many of whom they don’t know. And it is very clear to him: „If we are asked, we will certainly also bear witness to the hope that is in our hearts – and to the faith that inspires us to put love into action.“
Authors: Sigmar Friedrich / Stefan Pfister / Urs Schweizer