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Sustainability Abroad: Reducing Food Waste in Rome

by AIFS Abroad
Fresh produce at a food market in Rome, Italy

We take sustainability and reducing our carbon footprint incredibly seriously here at AIFS Abroad — we even have a formal Green Initiative focused on mitigating our organization’s impact on climate change! In our view, it’s imperative that our business practices keep sustainability top-of-mind, both in our internal efforts and our on-site programming for our students and interns abroad. One of the biggest ways we do this is through sustainability education opportunities, where our participants around the world — everywhere from Rome to San José to Sydney — become exposed to best practices in their host countries, and are provided with incentives and tools to help reduce their environmental footprint.

Of note, some of our recent participants in Rome, Italy took part in a self-organized Green Day! Read on to learn more about their efforts.

For Green Day, our team and students in Rome volunteered with ReCup, an organization that focuses on limiting food waste. Their initiative involves a team of volunteers attending a local market and, upon closing time, they recover food that wasn’t purchased by patrons but is still fresh and good to eat. There is so much produce that is wasted as a result of not looking perfect, and ReCup sees this as an opportunity to limit waste by redistributing it to citizens in need. Not only is this a great sustainability effort, but it increases access to healthy and nutritious food! ReCup recovers 600 tons of produce yearly and can feed over 3,000 people.

Our participants got involved at one of Rome’s many amazing markets and assisted by helping ReCup sort through the produce donated by vendors. Part of this sustainability education initiative was teaching them how look at produce differently; even if it has a bruise on it, it’s still edible. This activity helped demonstrate the reality of how being picky with the way food looks inherently causes a high rate of food waste — not every fruit or vegetable is going to look perfect every time, but that doesn’t diminish its value. They also learned about food consumption within Italy, which they can reflect on and apply to their own habits at home. Feedback from those who participated indicated that their time volunteering with ReCup in Rome was incredibly enjoyable, and they saw the value behind their contribution to sustainability in their host community abroad.

ReCup is a wonderful organization that impacts not only those on the receiving end of their efforts, but also those who volunteer with them — like AIFS Abroad students! The values of their organization impact everyone who works or volunteers with them. In the case of our participants, we know the new knowledge and skills they acquired will impact their lives (and the lives of those around them!) after they return home from Rome.

We commend our team and participants abroad in Rome for taking part in this initiative for their Green Day sustainability activity and look forward to future efforts to come!

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