At the time I was 59 years old, I kind of did a life review about what I’ve accomplished in my life. Everything I did was for me and I didn’t like the way that looked. I started thinking that since I’m so old, I didn’t have that many careers to develop. So this time, I was going to do something for other people.
I was in a restaurant one night and my older daughter asked what was going to happen with the salad bar at the end of the night. I said well, that’s going to the trash because they wouldn’t try to sell it the next day. She said that was a big shame. But it’s not just the salad bar, anything they prepared today that didn’t sell would go to the trash because they have to clean the pots and pans and get ready for another day tomorrow. A lot of food was going to the trash, not just this restaurant, but every restaurant in Lisbon and every restaurant in the world. That’s not a small shame, its a big shame. This was our first conversation.
She brought it up on another occasion and I said that you can’t really blame the people at the restaurants because they don’t have any other alternative. When I said the word alternative, that’s when a light went on in my head. It took about two weeks for me to realize that ReFood was the thing I wanted to do. All I had to do was to put some baskets on a bicycle and start doing it. I started by myself, I didn’t want to create expectations for a bunch of people. And now there is 7,000 volunteers, 46 communities around Portugal, serving 6,300 beneficiaries from 1,600 food sources and last year we rescued 1,700,000 meals that would have gone to the trash. That is 864 tonnes of bio residual material that doesn’t go to the landfill. It all worked out kind of nice.
The first beneficiaries of our work are the people that need the food. There is also the environmental issue, which is very important. But I think that the most important thing that we do is offer people the chance to help other people. And I think that is essential for us. I think there are people in every community who wants to help their fellow citizen. They just need the right tools to do it.
The reason for our growth is the good will and availability of people in different communities that says: we should have that and I’m gonna do it.
Question everything. Everything. Especially your own assumptions. Be open to what the universe will teach you. It’s more important to do stuff for other people than for yourself. They sound like cliches but there are things you really can’t tell people until they are ready to hear them. If there is any takeaways from this, it is - trying to get ahead for yourself, make money and stuff like that - it is just completely worthless. The only thing I would recommend is to find a way to serve others and that way, you have a chance to be happy.
Thank you Hunter for meeting with our founder David and a million thanks for your incredible efforts.