Wiener Tafel is an organization that gathers food that would otherwise be thrown away and redistributes these goods to the poorer areas of Vienna. An estimated people 200.000 live in poverty in the Austrian capital.
The initiative was started by Martin Haiderer in 1999. It started out very small, but nowadays it has grown into to large organization led by 17 people with more than 400 members. The concept driving Wiener Tafel is to gather food that would otherwise be wasted, either because it is almost expired, wrongly produced or even over-produced. Yearly, 70.000 tons of edible food is thrown out in Vienna. Five Wiener Tafel trucks drive around Vienna’s districts to provide food to refugee houses, homeless shelters, and plenty of others in need of food.
Wiener Tafel’s concept is simple: (small) businesses are frequently asked to save food for the Wiener Tafel members, who pick come to pick it up and deliver it to the right places. It is a win-win situation; the businesses are left with less waste, while more people can meet their basic needs. Sustainability and resource conservation are the main principles on which the initiative is built. This form of social engagement does not cost anything, but helps many. The organization combines the elements of care for the environment with social responsibility. By reducing waste, a step towards a greener environment is made. At the same time, the social obligation that many Austrian citizens feel towards helping the poor is satisfied with the Wiener Tafel concept.
Multiple projects are initiated by Wiener Tafel to financially support their efforts. Examples are the ‘Suppe mit Sinn’, where participating gastronomies donate 1 euro for every soup they serve. Another example is an art auction, where the profits are donated to the Wiener Tafel.
Since 2016, the organization is a member of the FEBA (European Federation of Food Banks), so that Wiener Tafel can help thinking about how poverty can be decreased on an European level.