Help at Christmas time: Pop-up boutique hands out Christmas food to those in need in Aalborg

by Megan McPhee Christensen
Laura Virginie Jersborg Carlsen is responsible for the Aalborg chapter of the organization
Laura Virginie Jersborg Carlsen is responsible for the Aalborg chapter of the organization "Stop Spild Lokalt".

The Christmas season is sweet for many but for many others it is a period of great stress.

Because how can you afford Christmas presents, food and decorations on an already overstretched budget?

According to 22-year-old student, Laura Virginie Jersborg Carlsen, everyone deserves a Christmas where they have food on the table and don’t have to worry about the economy.

That is why she is the local initiator of a so-called “pop-up food oasis” in Aalborg where families or individuals in financial need on can stop by Boulevard 8 and fill a bag with food on Friday 23rd of December and Tuesday 27th of December.

In need of volunteers

The Christmas initiative is part of the work that Denmark’s largest social food waste organization, Stop Spild Lokalt, carries out.

On a daily basis, the organization collects food and raw ingredients from supermarkets and manufacturers, which are in good condition but that cannot be sold in the shops due to expiry dates or damaged packaging.

Surplus food is given free of charge to financially needy citizens.

How to receive free food from the food oasis:

No registration is necessary. If you would like to receive food from the food oasis, you can just show up in front of Boulevarden 8 on December 23rd and/or December 27th.

The time for the delivery of food has not been determined yet, but you can follow along on the Stop Spild Lokalt (Aalborg) Facebook page, where Laura Virginie Jersborg Carlsen regularly shares information.

To succeed with the project, Stop Spild Lokalt is very dependent on volunteers, and so is Laura with her food oasis in Aalborg.

“We always need volunteers. We need people with cars and trailers to pick up and deliver the food, strong hands to lift a lot, people to sort and distribute food, and others to clean,” she says and adds:

“Everyone can be useful.”

In addition to volunteers who can help on December 23rd and 27th, Laura would also like to hear from companies who would like to sponsor trash bags, disinfectant, refrigerators, foldout tables and disposable gloves, as well as sponsoring soft drink and food for the volunteers.

If you are interested in helping out, you can write directly to Laura via the Facebook group Stop Spild Lokalt (Aalborg).

Food waste is a huge problem in Denmark

Stop Spild Lokalt was started in 2016 by the then only 17-year-old Rasmus Erichsen with the aim of saving a lot of food from going to waste.

The desire to reduce food waste also drives Laura, who was shocked the first time she found out how much food we actually throw away in Denmark.

“We have very much a throw-away-culture here in Denmark. If one carrot has gone bad in a package, we throw it all away instead of fishing out that single bad carrot.

It is ridiculous that we act like this when there are people who cannot put food on the table,” she explains.

With the food oasis in December, Laura can therefore combine her passion for saving food with helping people at Christmas – and she is managing to do this despite a busy exam period.

“My family has been asking what the hell I’m doing,” Laura says, laughing, and adds:

“It is extremely time-consuming, but I take the time to do it so that we can help a lot of people.”

Hope for a permanent food oasis in Aalborg

In Christmas 2021, Stop Spild Lokalt saved 515 tonnes of food nationwide, with 4,400 volunteers distributing the food to 45,000 people.

But it’s not just at Christmas that they make an effort: On a daily basis, they save 30+ tonnes of otherwise wasted food in their 28 local branches in Denmark.

Aalborg is not yet part of the 28 local branches, but the hope is that this Christmas effort will succeed in creating a permanent food oasis in 2023.

“Our ambition is to open a permanent food oasis after Christmas, and we hope that the municipality will be willing to cooperate.

It requires us to find a free room that we can open up in, so that every week we can help the financially needy,” Laura explains and elaborates that you are very welcome to contact her if you know of a place that she can use.

Read more about Stop Spild Lokalt here.

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