How I set up a food distribution service with the social Samu

For several months now, UTC student engineers – with an association “Compiègne en transition” - distribute meals with the social Samu. Interactions zoomed into this student initiative.

How I set up a food distribution service with the social Samu

Soups, salads and more elaborate dishes ... 'cooked' by the members of the association " Compiègne en Transition are assembled with unsold products. Operation code name "Team Recup".

It all started with a simple observation "Every week, as the town market drew to an end, we saw that the stall-holders were left a lot of slightly blemished fruit and vegetable, still perfectly edible", details Julie Kociánová, President of the Association. "We began by recovering these food items to make soups for our personal consumption". And then the students came to the conclusion that this operation would be far more beneficial for the down-and-outs of Compiegne.

They contacted the Samu social service at Compiegne to organize a soup distribution, just 4 litres to start with. But gradually the rhythm built up and the students developed their initiative. "We thought to ourselves, why not open he collection to more food merchants in Compiegne?" Super-markets, bakers' and other small shops were approached to ask them to offer their unsold items. And if at first the initiative surprised some people in this 'Imperial City" of Compiegne, the echoes coming back were increasingly positive.

Since those early days, two Saturdays per month, we see the same ritual. "Each member party to the project is assigned a task, like: go get the raw materials, do the cooking, or do the distribution" adds Julie. "We arrange for the members to have a different assignment each time". All told there are close on 40 students available each Saturday. "We would like to enroll more people", she adds. "Not only more students, but also citizens of the town of Compiegne to be able to offer more distributions, notably during the coming winter period ".

Beyond this race to recuperate waste food, the association Compiegne en transition has several other projects running, in line with the "cities in transition" concept launched by the Irish-based British born lecturer and self-proclaimed activist Rob Hopkins, founder of the 'Transition Movement', in 2005.

Sharing manure, waste collection... are projects that federate students round themes such as sustainable development and lead to a better involvement of students in the City.

As Julie Kociánová sees it, managing all these activities lends meaning to what she has in mind for a future professional occupation. "Ever since I began my studies, I wondered what path to follow for a choice of career", she details. "I really wanted something that would allow me to contribute positively to the environment". And her association work, whether it be in cooking or in waste collection mad her see things in perspective and more clearly. "The fact that I was constantly in contact with industrialists in the region allowed me to discover the various actions already under way in favour of the environment. I would like to be employed in a special theme area: pollution of our RD systems.

But till that time comes, Julie will continue to cook meals for the down-and-out, every second Saturday.