Rescuing Food For A Social Cause

By Jean-Claude Counand

Jean-Claude Counand, Chevening Scholar Studying at Edinburgh University

It was a winter night in the Hague. Dinner was at 8 pm.

At 7:55 pm, I arrived after peddling furiously to shatter the Caribbean stereotype of lateness.  Triumphant, I locked my borrowed bike next to a wooden food cart and hurried inside.

An odd sign, “Rescued Food: 604,302 kg” was the first thing I noticed. Next to it,  there was a basket of “imperfect” oranges; free to take. I grabbed one, made my way to the table, greeted my Dutch friends in their favorite Trini accent and settled in for business.

The waiter quickly arrived with the menu. Hungry but still politely conversational, I asked about the sign at the entrance. The waiter smiled as he explained the unique value proposition of the restaurant.

Every day, the menu is created based on rescued ingredients. Surplus food, food with flaws or that didn’t meet strict quality requirements were saved from going in the bin and cooked here.

Exciting! Socially conscious! Yes!  The food was delicious!   A shared consensus by eight of us millennials who dined and 166 reviews on Trip Advisor. Of the 1250 restaurants in the Hague, this one, using rejected ingredients was ranked 47th.

In-Stock, a for-profit business, opened its doors in 2016 with a social mission: To address food wastage.  Today, there are three branches in the Hague, Amsterdam and Utrecht. They also own a mobile food truck and a growing product line which includes a “rescued food” cook-book, beer brewed from leftover bread and four other offerings.

On the ride back, I ask my host Hester about other interesting eating places in the Hague. She recaps an experience of being served by a waiter with an occupational disability… 

Jean-Claude Counand is the Founder/Managing Director of 2 Cents Movement, a Caribbean-based NGO that uses spoken word poetry to develop socially responsible youth. The organisation employs 8 persons full time and coordinates outreach reach in 50 secondary schools, 30 primary schools and on 2 universities – engaging 40,000 youth in its programmes annually. In 2018 the 2 Cents Movement was awarded “Most Outstanding Youth Organisation” and “Most Effective youth Programme” at Trinidad and Tobago’s National Youth Awards. Jean-Claude is a co-founder/Director of Girl Be Heard Trinidad and Tobago and also serves as Youth Outreach Manager for Bocas Lit Fest.