Supermarket waste feeds the homeless in Milan

Launched during Expo Milano 2015 with its theme of “Feed the planet – Energy for life”, Milan’s Refettorio Ambrosiano has remained open and now turns the leftovers from city supermarkets into top-class meals for people from nearby homeless shelters.

Chef Massimo Bottura spotted the opportunity when he realised that the five-month international exposition was producing up to 15 tons of food waste.  While Expo was still running he opened a soup kitchen to provide lunch for children and supper for the homeless.

He succeeded in interesting dozens of world-class chefs like Mario Batali and Alain Ducasse in visiting the Refettorio and sharing ideas and recipes.  Milan’s Catholic diocese offered the premises at Teatro Greco, and local businesses provided generous donations. A renovation lasting six months turned the operation into a bright, art-filled space with a professional grade kitchen.

Now operating under Caritas Ambrosiana, the Refettorio can host 96 guests. It sources quality and in-date ingredients that are perfectly edible but would otherwise go to waste, and transforms them into nutritious, multi-course meals.

Their guests are individuals and families in situations of food poverty and social vulnerability. By using quality tableware and offering restaurant-style service, they make each guest feel valued and bring a sense of dignity back to the table.