The quality of life in Sweden is one of the highest in the world. Life expectancy in this country is one of the highest in the planet, and most citizens enjoy good health and well-being. In addition, Sweden has a strong economy and a high level of employment, which allows most of the population to have access to an income and adequate housing.
Despite its prosperity, poverty is not eradicated, and there are 3.8% of people below the poverty line, one of the lowest in the world. This small part of the population still needs small aids, such as those made by the Matmissionen (or Food Mission) stores, led by the young entrepreneur and former technology industry worker, Johan Rindevall.
The work of Matmissionen to combat hunger in Sweden
This atypical supermarket chain has expanded rapidly since its launch in January 2022, and offers its customers essential food products at prices much lower than the average of commercial supermarkets. People wishing to buy there must prove that they have limited financial resources, a necessary review to prevent unscrupulous people from taking advantage of Rindevall’s idea.
The eight Matmissionen stores (five in the Swedish capital Stockholm, three of which opened this year, two in Gothenburg and one in Malmö) sell food donated by producers and other supermarkets that are at risk of ending up in the trash, usually because they have cosmetic defects, damaged packaging or a close expiration date.
In addition to helping people with limited resources, they also help to avoid food waste, one of the most polluting human practices in the world: According to some estimates, about 30% of the food produced worldwide is wasted, which is equivalent to about 1.3 billion tons of food every year. This figure is alarming and represents a huge waste of resources, both in terms of food and in terms of energy used to produce them.
The third task of the organization is to train new workers for the supermarket industry: about 70% of the workforce is in various job placement programs and 40% get a full-time job. Proceeds from the stores also help subsidize a separate food bank operation, with some donations distributed to NGOs working with people at food risk.
Membership is open to anyone with an income of less than 11,200 Swedish kronor per month, approximately $1,050. In some countries, that amount of dollars can make a good salary, but in Sweden it doesn’t buy that much: the minimum wage in 2022 is 17,000 Swedish kronor, equivalent to almost $1,700.
How to avoid food waste at home
There are several ways to avoid food waste at home. Some useful tips include:
Meal planning: Before you go shopping, take some time to plan the meals for the week. This will help to avoid buying food that will not be used and will end up being wasted.
Buy only the necessary: avoid buying excessively and only buy the necessary amount of food to consume during the week. This will also help to save money. If you preffer the bulk shopping, try to purchase long-lasting products, so you will be able to consume them all before going spoiled.
Store food properly: Learn how to store food properly to prolong its shelf life. For example, some foods should be kept in the fridge, while others should be kept in the freezer or in a cool, dry place.
Check expiration dates: Before consuming the food, check the expiration dates to make sure that they are not expired. Before buying more food, check the refrigerator, freezer, and pantries to see what you have and use those foods before buying more.
Cook only the necessary amount: avoid cooking large amounts of food that will not be consumed and will end up being wasted. Cooking only the necessary amount will help to avoid food waste. If overcooking happened, freeze what you are not eating right away.
Reuse food: Instead of discarding leftover food after a meal, consider reusing it at another meal. For example, leftovers from a dinner can turn into a delicious soup or salad the next day.