Why Yasmina Khababi (27) already handed out a thousand free meals

You can not have a revolution on an empty stomach. The Black Panthers already knew that, in the 1960s, distributing free breakfast to black schoolchildren in the United States. According to them, hunger was not an accident but a form of oppression. Around the same time, a food movement started in Europe and the United States that focused on sustainability, fair prices, and animal friendliness.

A new generation of food activists is turning things around and emphasizing inequality. American activists even use the term ‘food apartheid’ to make it clear that politics determines who has access to fresh food: there are more fast food shops and fewer supermarkets in black neighborhoods. The same is true of poor neighborhoods in the Netherlands, and it has health implications: Relatively many people in these neighborhoods suffer from diabetes, lung disease, and cardiovascular disease.

Yasmina Khababi, 27, founded Freshtable, a low-cost, sustainable food delivery service. Freshtable mainly employs newcomers, regularly distributes free meals and has a podcast on sustainability and the food industry. “I grew up in a Moroccan family and I cooked a lot with my mother and grandmother. We grew vegetables and herbs in our garden. From them, I learned that fresh and healthy food does not have to be difficult. But it is made difficult, with high prices and complicated terms. I once asked my mom to make a vegan couscous. She sighed deeply until I said: the couscous you always make is vegan! She never stopped thinking about it. “

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“Many colleagues at Freshtable from Syria, Ghana or Egypt say they are not concerned about sustainability, but they have learned at home to turn off the lights, clean up rubbish, be frugal and eat fresh food. For us, it is precisely the essence of sustainability: to use common sense and rely on knowledge that has already been there for a long time. In many non-western kitchens, for example, it is perfectly normal to use some meat and dairy products. All Freshtable meals are vegetarian by default, but you can add meat; then you pay extra.

During my study Public Administration in Rotterdam, many fellow students were preoccupied with the climate or refugees. I was frustrated that the connection was never made: migration and climate change are about inequality. So I wanted to put something up that tackles both themes at the same time. A large part of our team consists of newcomers, to whom we provided an internship or job in their own field. We do not ask an accountant to be in the kitchen, as you unfortunately often see. “

Freshtabel now delivers about sixty to one hundred meals a week to people’s homes in fourteen cities across the Netherlands. “And with our Share a Meal project, people can buy and donate a meal. For example, we have already distributed a thousand free meals to two asylum seekers’ centers, a homeless shelter and a women’s shelter. ”

Food activism: eating in the resistance movement

Different movements use food as a form of resistance. In the 80s in the US, you had the anti-capitalist network Food not Bombs. They prepared vegan and vegetarian meals of food that would be thrown out and distributed them during protests against imperialist wars. Since the 1990s, the international collective La Via Campesina (Spanish for ‘the peasantry’) has fought for what they call ‘food sovereignty’. It is the right of farmers and indigenous peoples around the world to decide for themselves what they produce and eat, without interference from foreign governments or companies.

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