By Mike Pomranz
June 22, 2017
© Andrew Warburton / Alamy

Keeping Olympians fed is a huge undertaking. At the 2012 Games, as many as 60,000 meals a day were served in Olympic Village. The numbers behind those meals were just as staggering: 25,000 loaves of bread, 100 tons of beef, 31 tons of poultry, 21 tons of cheese and 360 tons of fruit (with all that bread, meat and cheese, you’ll need some fiber). Such a massive amount of food means it’s almost inevitable that some will go to waste, but Italian chef Massimo Bottura is thinking about things from a different perspective: that much food provides a massive opportunity to eliminate waste.

Since last year, Bottura has been focusing his energy on fighting the problem of global food waste, starting the initiative Food for Soul. His next major stop – possibly his biggest stop to date – will be at the 2016 Rio Olympics. His plan is to establish a cafeteria, the Refettorio Gastromotiva, where a team of international chefs will repurpose the leftovers from Olympic Village and serve them to locals living in Rio de Janeiro’s impoverished favelas.


“We hope to become an example for others, and that work like ours will help favor social integration through a commitment to fighting waste and redistributing resources,” Bottura was quoted as saying. Speaking to the Huffington Post specifically about his Olympic project, he said, “We want to underline the fact that the creation of a refectory in Rio was also supported by the city itself, and the Olympic committee. All of their efforts make it possible to spotlight this initiative and take the time necessary to build up a solid project that can survive and continue to operate even once the Olympics are over, remaining a point of reference for the entire Lapa community.”

It’s an ambitious plan, and unlike the rest of the games, doesn’t come with the glitz and glamor of medals. But maybe it should.