Chefs work to feed Rio's poorest with leftover food from Olympic Village

A general view of the Olympic and Paralympic Village for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Barra da Tijuca. (Getty)
A general view of the Olympic and Paralympic Village for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Barra da Tijuca. (Getty)

There are nearly 18,000 athletes, coaches and officials are staying in the Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro. Needless to say there are a lot of mouths to feed.

But what happens to the surplus food not eaten by the thousands living in the village?

Well, feed the less fortunate of course.

Sounds like it’s too good to be true, given that between 30 and 40 percent of food produced around the world is never eaten for a number of reasons.

[Related: Team USA has some issues that need fixing]

But it’s true. And two chefs are leading the way to make it happen.

Italian chef Massimo Bottura and Brazilian chef David Hertz have taken on the challenge of using the surplus food from the village and turning it into about 5,000 meals daily for Rio’s poorest and hungriest citizens.

The initiative is called RafettoRio Gastromotiva, and it follows in the footsteps of a similar initiative at the Milan Expo in Italy in 2015, called Refettorio Ambrosiano, which was also started by the pair of chefs. Bottura and Hertz have sought the help of more than 40 other chefs and colleagues from around the world to help turn all that food into meals for Rio’s neediest.

Massimo Bottura, an Italian chef, and David Hertz from Brazil were inspired by an initiative in Italy last year, Refetterio Ambrosiano, that brought 65 chefs together to cook meals using donated ingredients from the Milan World Expo.

According to Reuters:

“RefettoRio Gastromotiva is going to work only with ingredients that are about to be wasted … like ugly fruit and vegetables, or yogurt that is going to be wasted in two days if you don’t buy it,” Hertz said.

The United Nations estimates that nearly 800 million people worldwide go to bed hungry. Nearly five percent of Brazil’s population goes hungry every night. With more than 200 million people, that’s still about 10 million people who go hungry on daily basis.

So while 5,000 will only put a small dent into that number, it’s a step in the right direction.

“We want to fight hunger and provide access to good food,” Hertz said to Reuters.

The goal of the initiative is to feed the hungry in Rio, but also establish a similar setup in all future Olympic host cities. Hertz and Battura also want this to become a movement to fight the food waste as well as provide education and training for aspiring cooks, chefs and other restaurant workers.

“We want to promote as much change as possible using gastronomy as a tool for social change and social inclusion,” said Hertz. “For now it’s still only a dream. We need strategic partners to make this happen. It seems amazing but we need investors.”