Difference between revisions of "Citizens rescuing and sharing food in Berlin"

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'''characterization of Governance Interventions for Sustainable & Just Cities'''
'''characterization of Governance Interventions for Sustainable & Just Cities'''
This intervention has been translated into a brief governance scenario called [[Expanding effective practices for food rescuing and sharing among cities]]
== a) Basic characteristics and ambitions of the intervention ==
== a) Basic characteristics and ambitions of the intervention ==

Revision as of 11:56, 26 June 2020

characterization of Governance Interventions for Sustainable & Just Cities

This intervention has been translated into a brief governance scenario called Expanding effective practices for food rescuing and sharing among cities

a) Basic characteristics and ambitions of the intervention

1. What is the name and the urban context (e.g. city/district) of the intervention? Please also indicate the geographical scale of the intervention (e.g. neighborhood, district, small/medium/ capital city, metropolitan area ...). [Example: “Brixton Energy in Brixton, London (neighborhood in capital city)”]

The selected intervention is called foodsharing.de and specifically focuses on the case of the public fridges in Berlin, Germany. Those fridges - or “Fair-Teiler” (derived from the German words “fair” and “verteilen”, “to distribute”) - are disposed of in different places around the city and give people access to free and anonymously shared food. In 2018, the city of Berlin counted around 25 fridges (SHARECITY_02: 202).

The intervention, specifically, takes place at the scale of a capital city. However, it includes different scales of governance. At the local level, such as a neighbourhood or a city district, public fridges are managed by the local community of food savers. Scaling-up, Foodsharing.de as an organization is structured at the national level and the regional level and relies on an online platform that connects food-donors to food-recipients.

2. What sector(s) (alias domain/ policy field) is the intervention primarily implemented in ? [e.g. housing, mobility, energy, water, health, local economy, biodiversity, CC adaptation, etc.]

The intervention is implemented in the sector of food. Specifically, it addresses food-waste and food safety issues.

3. What is the intervention (i.e. situated experiment) aiming to achieve in terms of sustainability and justice? [If possible, please copy from a project website and give a reference]

The creation of the public fridges addresses the question of sustainability with a view to preventing food waste. By collecting food and sharing it with others, foodsharing attempts to reduce the amount of edible food which is wasted every day. The aim is also to raise awareness about the food issue and our food system which generates too much waste. As a food saver in Berlin points out during an interview, there is an educational dimension in foodsharing: “of course part of food-sharing is educational” (SHARECITY_02: 209). Showing perfectly good food that is thrown away contributes to politicizing the food issue and to raise concerns about food waste.

The public fridges are also addressing the question of justice with a view to alleviating food insecurity. In this context, food is understood as a “common”good. The latter refers to resources which are “jointly governed, stewarded and shared by their users” (Ostrom and al. 1999, in SHARECITY 02: 203).

4. What is the interventions’ timeframe?

Foodsharing.de was created in 2012 and the public fridges were introduced two years later in 2014 (SHARECITY_02: 202). However, due to institutional and organizational constraints (see below), beginning in 2017, many public fridges in Berlin were closed and the access of the remaining ones is restricted.

5. By what governance mode is the intervention characterized primarily? (see Appendix 1: Three modes of governance)

Foodsharing.de is led by non-government actors. Specifically, Foodsharing.de is self-governed by members and based on a hierarchical and distributed governance structure shaped through “trust, sharing and food safety” (SHARECITY_02: 202).

6. Why do you consider it worthwhile to study and share experiences made in the context of this governance intervention for sustainable and just cities?[1]

This governance intervention is worthwhile to study and share in the context of UrbanA WP5 because it meets the four criteria (mentioned in the footnote). Specifically, it provides an Interesting example of non-government led intervention - based on the members’ self-governance - that works quite effectively in itself but faces obstacles related to a regulatory framework.

7. In which project deliverable(s) or other documents can information be found on this situated (i.e. place specific) governance intervention?


b) Additional basic characteristics, links to earlier UrbanA work

8. EU Project-context of the intervention:

  • a. Has the intervention been developed or studied in the context of an (EU-funded?) project? (please name the project, its duration and include a link to the project website here).

The intervention has been studied in the context of a EU-funded project called SHARECITY (2015-2021). The project aims at identifying and examining practices of city-based food sharing economies, referring to new forms of exchanges which entail, in most cases, environmental and social commitments.

Specifically, food sharing refers to a set of practices including eating (consuming), giving food (redistributing), or experiencing activities (eating together) which are done together with others. A database - called Sharecity100 database - maps the food sharing initiatives all around the world (SHARECITY_11). Out of it, nine cities have been selected for conducting in-depth ethnographic analyses. The intervention of foodsharing.de is a part of the project findings and case study but the organization itself has not been created within the framework of SHARECITY.

  • b. According to WP3’s database of approaches, which approach(es) does the intervention best fit under? Where applicable, please indicate if the intervention is found in a project that has been explicitly mentioned in the database.

The intervention fits under the sharing and cooperatives for urban commons approach. Sharecity project is explicitly mentioned in the database as it shows the transformative potential of food sharing initiatives towards sustainable cities.

  • c. Have some project deliverables been coded in the context of UrbanA’s WP4?

Yes: SHARECITY_(02)_Sharing food_Berlin case_MORROW 2019

9. Problematization and priority:

  • a. How exactly has inequality and exclusion been problematized (by whom) in the context of this intervention?

The question of inequality and exclusion has been addressed by the founders of foodsharing.de with a view to establishing food as “common”, accessible to everyone, and as being free from money transactions (Fellmer 2014, in SHARECITY_02: 204).

Public fridges also tackle the boundaries between donors, recipients and providers. Hence, the aim is to deconstruct the relation of power and the perpetuation of inequalities often pointed out in food aid organizations and to reduce the stigma of free food. Indeed, donors and recipients do not need to meet social criteria (i.e. precarity, low incomes…) to share or receive food anonymously. This differs from other food aid organizations such as food banks or the German TAFEL. With the blurring identification of donors and recipients, public fridges step out of the scheme of assistantship and refuse the relation of power and the domination it implies.

  • b. Has the achievement of justice explicitly been named as a major motivation behind the intervention?

The achievement of justice is explicitly pointed out as a major motivation behind the creation of public fridges. Established two years after the creation of foodsharing.de, public fridges address this exclusionary issue and make food available to everyone. Both food savers and external recipients can access these public fridges. This is highly valued among food savers (SHARECITY_02: 205).

In addition, public fridges also tackle the issue of social exclusion as they provide sociability. Indeed, located in public and/or open places (e.g. at the entrance of buildings, often next to community centres), public fridges are suitable for regular encounters. As a food saver recalls: “It (a public fridge) also has a social aspect. Because you often meet people there [...] then you stand there and chat for a bit and it’s totally nice” (SHARECITY_02: 205). Therefore, public fridges contribute to enhance urban sociability and community-building and de-stigmatize free food at the same time.

Drivers of injustices Based on WP4 coding Based on own assessment
1. Exclusive access to the benefits of sustainability infrastructure X
2. Material and livelihood inequalities
3. Racialized or ethnically exclusionary urbanization
4. Uneven and exclusionary urban intensification and regeneration
5. Uneven environmental health and pollution patterns
6. Unfit institutional structures X
7. Limited citizen participation in urban planning
8. Lack of effective knowledge brokerage and stewardship opportunities
9. Unquestioned Neoliberal growth and austerity urbanism X
10. Weak(ened) civil society

c) Actor constellations

10. Who initiated the intervention?

The public fridges were initiated by members of Foodsharing.de in Berlin. This community-based intervention is an innovation within the social movement of Foodsharing.de.

It was initiated without institutional support (i.e. urban policies or public food programs) and foodsharing aims at remaining outside the institutional framework.[2]

11. Who are the envisioned benefiters of the intervention? (both at a local level and higher, if applicable)

The envisioned benefiters of public fridges are food savers/sharers themselves and any other recipients including local inhabitants of Berlin. Public fridges provide access to free food and also contribute to enhance community-building among their users and other citizens. In addition, food companies or retailers also benefit from the intervention because less food they handle is wasted (i.e. ethical dimension) as well as the costs related to waste disposal are exempted (i.e. economical dimension).

12. Who else is (going to be) involved in the intervention, and what was/is their main role?

Actor types[3] Yes Actor name and role[4]
Academic organizations
Religious organizations
Civil society organizations X The members of foodsharing who are responsible for maintaining public fridges.
Hybrid/ 3rd sector organizations
Social movements
Political parties
Social entreprises
For profit entreprises X Food companies and retailers that give non-retailable food to food savers.
Local/regional government X The Food Safety Authority of Berlin that ensures compliance with the food safety laws.

The Berlin Senate that locally enforces (food safety) regulations.

Regional organizations
National government X The German legislator that translates into the national law the European food safety regulations.
Supranational government X (To some extent) The European Union that defines the food safety regulation.
International networks
Other initiatives

13. Which particular interactions among various stakeholders (stakeholder configurations) were crucial in enabling the intervention to emerge successfully? This could include direct or indirect impacts on interventions.

The intervention was triggered by the existing network of the members including within the Foodsharing movement as well as with other community organizations involved in sharing or social and cultural interventions.

One the one hand, Foodsharing.de provides social resources (i.e. experienced activists in food saving) as well as organizational resources (i.e. the online platform that connects donors to recipients) for establishing public public fridges. On the other hand, most public fridges are hosted by other community organisations collaborating with food sharing and providing space for locating the fridges (e.g. to plug them into electricity). This network and relationships support activists eager to set up new public fridges and facilitate the operating of existing ones.

14. To what extent, in what form and at what stages have citizens participated in the shaping of the intervention?

The public fridges have been established by the members of foodsharing.de. They are run by volunteers and are self-managed. Thus, public fridges are a community-based / grassroot-based initiative. Not only have citizens created foodsharing and installed public fridges, but they also regulate them and are responsible for keeping them running. Public fridges are self-managed systems to share food and are operated without public intervention.

15. How are responsibilities and/or decision-making power distributed among actors?

Foodsharing.de is hierarchically structured. Specific tasks are attributed to members depending on their position/role in the structure. These positions entail specific responsibilities that enable to maintain trust within the organization and between the activists as well as to ensure the functioning of foodsharing.de (SHARECITY_13: 66).

The “food sharers”, registered in the platforme, can take food from public dispensers and get acquainted with the project as well as with other activists. As Foodsharing.de aims at being open to everyone, this first level of commitment has a very low threshold.

However, becoming a “food saver” is more exclusive. It entails to have successfully achieved an online questionnaire or quiz about the policy, the ideological stance and the rules of the organization as well as to have attended local meetings. Food saver “applicants” have to take part in several food rescue operations to receive a “FoodSaver passport” which allows them to visit partner companies for picking food. This status entails a high lee of commitment and more responsibilities (SHARECITY_13: 67).

Further hierarchical levels include the “store coordinators” managing food savers’ picking slots and coordinating them with the partner stores as well as “ambassadors” who are responsible for accrediting new food savers and for creating new partnerships with food retailers (SHARECITY_13). The “orgateam” coordinate and decide the national policy of foodsharing.de (Yunity, 2017, in SHARECITY_02: 203).

It can be pointed out that the set of rules, including food safety and rules for sharing, is enforced by membership through self-monitoring and peer surveillance (SHARECITY_02: 208). Every “violation” – such as being late for a pick-up or not being cautious with sharing food or maintaining public fridges - are reported by other members. Excessive infractions are sanctioned by ambassadors and lead to the loss of food savers privileges or even to exclusion. On the contrary, good practices are rewarded by co-savers. All violations and rewards are reported in an ICT platform (e.g. such as blames as well as “trust bananas” rewarding positive behaviours). Specifically, Foodsharing.de is based on reputational economy mediated by an online platform (SHARECITY_02: 208).

16. Exclusion:

  • a. Which stakeholders or social groups were excluded (at which stages)?

Public fridges are meant to be accessible to everyone. Whereas most of the public fridges are located in community centers, the access to them may depend on the connotation as well as on the others users of these places (e.g. a community center having stigma or a special cultural/political identity). In that sense, some people could exclude themselves from certain places (interview with O.). However, the exclusive dimension related to public fridges is not really about accessing food but rather about actively engaging in the organization of food sharing. As mentioned above, becoming a foodsharer that can collect food to grocery stores entails to have been through a very exclusive procedure, including a quizz testing your abilities and commitment towards the organization. In addition, foodsharing rules and ideological stands (written and detailed in the wiki) as well as the quiz are only written in German language. This quiz greatly reduces the scope of members who are eligible/able to become food savers and excludes non-german speakers as well as people who do not want to take on too much responsibilities.

  • b. Is there any indication why this may have happened? With what outcomes? Has anything been done to overcome such exclusions?

This exclusionary dimension is related to the hierarchical structuration of Foodsharing. Food is made available for everyone but only those who are willing to commit themselves to a great level (including picking food on a regular basis, redistributing it, not being late) can take responsibility for collecting food. Food sharers are often people who were already dumpster divers or collecting food for the community and they accept a level of responsibility and work that people in need are probably not able/willing to commit to.

The exclusionary dimension of the quiz is an ongoing discussion within foodsharing. It has been created with the idea to filter people who could create problems (including being too greedy or giving the organization a bad reputation). As Foodsharing becomes more popular and has many applicants, the organization does not have the capacity to train so many people about food safety and food collection and the quiz that covers a lot different things (including values and knowledge) is a filter. If revising the quiz has been discussed within the organisation, the ability to do it seems beyond most of the food sharers (interview with O.)

d) Enabling conditions for the implementation of the intervention

17. What circumstances or events are reported to have triggered the intervention? (In what ways?)

The public fridges and Foodsharing as an organization has been created as a response to food waste and to the gridlock of a food system that generates too much waste. Whereas food regulations do not effectively address this problem, a community-based initiative has been developed to alleviate this issue and find a solution to reduce food wastes. Foodsharing developed in a context of growing public awareness about food issues as well as the development of other forms of sharing economies including initiatives in the sector of clothing, mobility or energy (interview O.).

18. Are particular substantive (multi-level) governmental policies considered to be highly influential in the genesis and shaping of the intervention? (If easily possible, please specify the policy, the policy field and the governance level mainly addressed, and characterize it along Appendix 2: Policy typology)

The intervention has been framed by regulatory policies (i.e. administrative, command-and-control) such directives, legislations and laws addressing food risk and safety policies and food waste policies.

Food risk policies regulate the risk of the food chain or “from farm to work” (i.e. production, proceeding, storage, transportation, distribution and redistribution) and food hygiene policies concern food safety best practices (i.e. the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems, the cold chain as well as the Codex Alimenarius standards). Those regulations are mainly set up at the European level and adapted nationally and locally.

Public fridges tackle and challenge the legal framework regulating food risk and food wastes. This legal framework includes three levels of regulation - European, national and local - and only applies to food businesses (i.e. entrepreneurs handling food). At the European level, it includes EU 178/2002 General Food Law regulating food risk. This law enforces responsibility for those dealing with food and mandates the total traceability of the food chain (i.e. from one step backward and one step forward). In addition, EU 852/2004, Food Hygiene Law regulates food safety best practices and identifies food which is safe or non-injurious to health. EU 852 regulation is particularly responsive to local contexts and gives national and/or local authorities the competence to determine in which circumstances this regulation is to be applied (i.e. to determine whether an organization is a business or not) (SHARECITY 02: 206).

19. What constitutional responsibilities and rules does the intervention build upon? In other words, what rights, powers, and/or responsibilities, does the country's constitution (in a broad sense) award municipalities, states, utilities, NGOs, citizens etc. and how does this impact the intervention?

According to the hierarchy of norms, European laws (described above) are transposed into the German federal law. At the national level, the European laws are enforced and supported by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL). The latter is responsible for food monitoring through the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) and the Federal Institute of Risk Assessment (BfR). However, the responsibility for food control lays on the federal states (Länder). At the local level, each state has a Food Safety Authority (FSA) that ensures compliance with the food safety laws.[5]The FSA is competent to determine whether an organization is a food business or not and thus, whether it has to comply with EU regulations or not. In addition, food safety entails to look at the German civil code for consumer protection (i.e. § 13 BGB) stating that businesses are liable for the goods and services they provide (including food) (SHARECITY 02: 206).

However, foodsharing.de is assumed to be uncovered by food law, despite being framed in response to it. Public fridges aim to remain outside of this food legislation. Theoretically, European as well as national food safety regulations apply to businesses and not domestic users. Specifically, businesses are characterised by a certain continuity and degree of organisation. In contrast, public fridges seek to remain in the realm of domestic use. This is justified by the non-continuity of the activity (i.e. the relationship between users of public fridges are uncertain as there is no supervision of who exchanges food with whom) and the low degree of organization (i.e. the small quantity of food gathered in public fridges refers to domestic and not to business uses).[6] In doing so, foodsharing aims at avoiding to ensure compliance with the guidelines of a food business.

20. According to project material/and or interviews, in what ways have particularities of (local) political culture influenced the character and success of the intervention? (i.e. trust in political institutions, citizens’ will to interact with policy makers and vice versa, traditions of cooperation etc.)

The local political culture has influenced the character of the intervention. Foodsharing members established themselves as actors of the food system. It means that a civil society organization feels entitled to make intervention in the city, to redesign and occupy the public space as well as to address dysfonctionnements in the food systeem. Citizens are political actors giving themselves space for political action which tend to indicate a democratic culture (interview O.).

21. What are financial arrangements that support the intervention?

Foodsharing.de is self-financed through donations. In 2012, the organization started with a capital collected through crowdfunding (i.e. via the platform Stratnext). Today, a small circle of supporting members as well as single donations provide funding. The organization seeks to minimize its expenses (i.e. foodsharing motto is “as little money as possible should be used”). These expenses include the Foodsharing-Festival, costs for accounting, traveling costs and the salary of one single employee in a mini-job.[7]

Foodsharing.de is run on a voluntary basis and is based on unpaid commitment. Voluntary work includes the creation of the online platform, the webhosting (sponsored), the support from lawyers and other tasks such as the maintenance of the online platform and mediation of regional groups. Drawing from an ideological perspective, foodsharing.de aims to be as free from financial support as possible (there are some exceptions where money is used) and work with committed people without money transactions.[8]

Foodsharing.de does not receive any public subsidies and is run without support from public authorities.

22. Have any of the above conditions changed within the intervention’s timeframe, which have (significantly) influenced it in a positive or negative way?

Yes, changes in the understanding of which organizations are food-businesses or not have influenced the intervention in a negative way. Foodsharing.de Berlin has been recognized by the FSA as a food business and thus, has been asked to comply with the food safety regulation (see below Q.23 “obstacles”).

Note: Certain contexts, which provide opportunities to learn from other relevant experiences, may also be a supportive framework condition. Please see section h, questions 26 + 30 on learning context.

e) Obstacles to successful intervention implementation

23. What obstacles to implementing the intervention (both generally, and in this particular context) have been identified, relating to:

  • a. Regulatory framework

The public fridges monitored by foodsharing.de in Berlin were targeted by the FSA of Berlin which has a narrow understanding of business and considers that foodsharing falls into this category. Thus, the FSA opposes fooshering.de the EU 178/2002 General Food Law regulating food risk and the EU 852/2004 Food Hygiene Law regulating food safety practices applied to businesses. Consequently, foodsharing in Berlin turns to be responsible for the content of the fridges and for the traceability of the food one step backward (i.e. before entering the fridges) and one step forward (i.e. who is taking it). This entailed for food savers to record every single food item which is saved and shared as well as to designate an individual (i.e. a member of foodsharing) who is responsible for it.

In January 2017, the Berlin Senate enforced a new set of rules governing public fridges in line with the EU 178 and 852 regulations. It required foodsharing.de to follow the safety rules such as a business and to name an individual “responsible for the contents of each fridge and their traceability” (SHARECITY 02: 207).

  • b. Legitimacy

The self-governance practices of foodsharing oppose food governance practices built upon the EU and national regulations (SHARECITY_02: 203). Indeed, food governance at the level of the European Union is built upon risks and responsibilities. Drawing on Ulrich Beck’s theory of risk, food safety regulations understand risk at a global level rather than at the individual one. Thus, preventing food risk entails scientific processes of risk assessment which rely on technological methods applied by experts rather than by people (SHARECITY_02: 204). On the contrary, food savers understand risk at a local scale, from the point of collection (food stores) to recipients. Hence, the conflict opposing foodsharing and the FSA about the food safety issue over public fridges depends on different scales of governance and understanding of risk.

  • c. Public awareness


  • d. Finances

Foodsharing is run by (unpaid) volunteers and does not have the capacity (i.e. not enough human resources) to record the circulation of the food prior and after the fridges (in contrast to organizations that employ people such as food banks) (SHARECITY_02: 209).

  • e. Others (please name)

The obstacles related to the regulatory framework as a cultural aspect. The European food safety legislation applies everywhere. However, in many countries, there is often a grey area, such as community initiatives, which is tolerated by the public actors including food safety authorities. In Germany and specifically in Berlin, the FSA does not leave room for this grey area and establishes a strict separation between the private and the public realms. Collectively dealing with food outside of households is under the responsibility of the FSA (interview with O.)

f) (Institutional) Work done to overcome obstacles

24. What has been done by each central actor group to overcome which particular obstacles in the way of successfully implementing the intervention? (this may include institutional Work - maintaining, disrupting, and creating new rules, applying to both formal laws/regulations and informal norms and expectations.)

Name of obstacle What work was/is being done to overcome this obstacle and by what actor groups?
Call for Foodsharing to endorse liability for the content of the fridges.

Limited handling capacities

Foodsharing refuses to comply with this call on practical and ideological grounds. First, no members would accept to endorse the liability for a fridge which is not possible to be fully controlled. In contrast to organizations that employ people to record the circulation of the food (such as food-banks), a volunteer-based organization does not have enough (human) resources to do this work. On the other hand, the EU regulations contrast with some founding principles of the public fudges such as the anonymity of donors/recipients. Recording the circulation of food would indeed lapse this anonymity (SHARECITY_02: 207).

Instead of designating someone responsible for a fridge, Foodsahring communicated the names and contact details of their entire Foodsharing group. In doing so, not only they refuse that one individual undertakes the liability for public fridges, but also, they stand for the collective management of these fridges (SHARECITY_02: 210).

The enforcement by the Berlin Senate of a new set of rules governing public fridges in line with the EU 178 and 852 regulations. In response to the Berlin Senate enforcement, foodsharing Berlin intended to reframe public fridges as private “club goods”and not businesses (SHARECITY_02: 210). For doing so, they have restricted access to public fridges, especially to Foodsharing members. In addition, foodsharing Berlin publicly stated that Foodsharing is not a business and that the food inside the fridges is not regulated. This statement was issued with a view to discharge the organization from its liability towards food.

The FSA started to pressure the community center hosting public fridges by threatening them with a fine in case they continue to do so. Put at financial risk, many organisations have stopped to host public fridges.

g) Reported outcomes

25. What are reported outcomes of the intervention? This may include economic outcomes, political outcomes, ability to reach sustainability and justice targets, etc.

Regarding sustainability impact, Foodsharing.de achieved to prevent a large amount of food from being wasted. Since 2012, Foodsharing.de has “rescued” about 12,796,298 kg of food.[9] Specifically in Berlin, foodsavers rescued nearly a metric ton of food in Berlin alone.[10]This includes the food which has been saved before (from 2012 to 2014) and after the introduction of public fridges.

The public fridges established in Berlin were an attempt to address sustainability and social justice. However, the obstacles opposed by the FSA and the rules enforced by the Berlin senate reduced the impact of public fridges. The closing of many of them and the restricted access of the remaining (still are some active) jeopardizes the core objective of the initiative which was to make food available to everyone and to destigmatize free food. It has also hampered anti-food actions.

h) Learning involved in establishing the intervention

Please fill in any information on social learning that has occured in this intervention (conceptualized here as “Learning context, content, and process” in line with the FOODLINKS project)[11]. Where possible, please differentiate your response into learning done by specific actor groups.

Learning context

(i.e. the configuration and social environment enabling the learning process)

26. According to the TRANSIT project’s four mechanisms for empowerment – i. funding; ii. legitimacy; iii. knowledge sharing, learning, and peer support; or iv. visibility and identity – please briefly describe the following, and indicate where the intervention has been developed or supported as part of which formal collaborations, networks or projects:

  • a. any previous experiences in the same urban context (e.g. city…) that the intervention is (reportedly) building upon? This could include any relevant experiences in the same or another sector.

In Berlin, There are many kinds of sharing initiatives related to food developed including community gardens, food banks or meal saving as well as other forms of sharing economies in other sectors such as clothing, services, mobility etc. Foodsharing members tend to be involved in lots of other sharing initiatives which informs about how a context of social innovation can be a fertile ground for the development of such an intervention. Building on a network and having experience in engaging collectively may have been crucial for the creation of public fridges.

  • b. any inter-city partnerships, or transfers from experiences elsewhere that have (reportedly) been important in the emergence of this intervention?

Foodsharing as an organization started in Cologne (Germany) and other regional branches of the national organization developed in other German cities. However, Foodsharing in Berlin has initiated the creation of public fridges which are built on the experiences its members may have acquired elsewhere and in other sectors. There are no explicit evidences of this inter-city learning.

Learning content

27. Has any acquired knowledge (e.g. technical knowledge, awareness of local political procedures etc.) been reported as particularly helpful to this intervention?

  • a. from previous experiences in the same urban context


  • b. from inter-city partnerships, or transfers from experiences elsewhere

Knowledge has been acquired from other regional food sharing groups in Germany, especially Cologne where the headquarter of the organisation is located. Specifically, food sharing Berlin can compare how other regional groups deal with the food safety legislation. Hence, Foodsharing Berlin can advocate that the organization is not recognized as a business in the other Federal States of Germany and use this argument to oppose the local legislation.

  • c. from other knowledge gathering/research


Learning process

28. In what ways has the intervention been adapted to specific circumstances of the targeted urban context based on the learned content reported in question 27?

Public fridges and more generally Foodsharing successfully developed in Berlin because it is adapted to the local context including a strong subculture and live style of sharing as well as urban infrastructures facilitating sharing operations.

First, there are in Berlin a lot of people having the time and the enthusiasm to engage in this type of action. This is a part of the local subculture and a politic attached to it which made the intervention possible to emerge (interview with O.).

Second, foodsharing can develop in a context where a lot of food is available (mostly urban context) as well as infrastructures helping at the logistics of food collection and distribution (such as bicycles, public transport etc…) (SHARECITY_14). Insofar food is perishable, donors and recipients must be quickly connected and short distances matter and facilitated access matter.

29. Based on your answers to question 24, how has overcoming obstacles (reportedly) contributed to the learning process?

The members of Foodsharing Berlin who were confronted with these obstacles learn how to navigate political and administrative channels and to get the point across. They got used to making public statements, press releases and participating in meetings with local authorities, politicians and elected officials. In that sense, facing these obstacles has contributed to the politicization of the Foodsharing members (interview with O.).

In addition, by refusing to comply with the requisite food traceability and individual liability (see Q. 24), the organization has reframed and strengthened its political line and clarified the ambition the movement (inferred from SHARECITY_02: 210).

30. Please list any tools that enabled the learning process (e.g. various Knowledge Brokerage Activities from pg. 24 of FOODLINK’s Deliverable 7.1 - linked in footnote)[12] and the actors involved in using them.

The tools that enable the learning process include:

  • the ICT- platform that gives information about Foodsharing.de’s actions and food saving and distribution.
  • the mentorship between prospective food savers and initiated food savers.
  • the use wiki that compiles the political line and all the practical information that enable prospective food sharer/saver to enter the organization.

i) Learning involved in establishing interventions elsewhere (transferability)

31. Suggestions regarding transferability.

  • a. Have any suggestions been made about a replicability, scaleability or transferability of the intervention? [e.g. in the documentation of the intervention in a project or the press? Links would be perfect]

The members of Foodsharing were actively making sure that the initiative is spread. Active members have tried to expand Foodsharing outside of Germany. For instance, Foodsharing developed in the Netherlands (some public fridges are located in Amsterdam or Wageningen) (interview with O.).

Specifically, the group Yunity[13] that originate from the Foodsharing movement is developing tools and softwares for enabling other people in other contexts to start their own food sharing network. There are going all across the world doing Akaton to create community-based software and logistic tools to start foodsharing. The idea to share this technology that supports foodsharing beyond the Foodsharing movement itself (Interview with O.).

In addition, the replicability of food sharing initiatives such as Foodsharing.de has been pointed out in the project SHARECITY and its toolkit for food sharing called “SHARE IT toolkit” (SHARECITY_09).[14] The case of Foodsharing in Berlin demonstrates food governance arrangements and issues stressing food sharing regulations (i.e. social rules and legal instruments) and the obstacles to be overcomed in order to replicate and transfer sharing initiatives.

  • b. Transferability to what kind of contexts has been suggested?

Public fridges can be transferred to many different urban contexts. However, a set of prerequisites have been identified (interview with O.).

  • a political subculture and enthusiasm from people to engage in sharing activities
  • the feeling of the right to the city. This means that people feel that the city is theirs which makes it possible to redesign it, to appropriate the space and make interventions.

For example, in a city like New York City, inhabitants do not necessarily feel this right to the city as the tight to use public space is different from berlin. Community fridges just developed in the context of the covid-19 pandemic, because so many people could not access grocery stores or food banks.

  • political structures offering space for such initiatives to develop.
  • c. Who has made the claims?

The claim about replicability as been made by the intervention’s proponent i.e. Foodsharing members.

  • d. What limits to transferability to broader contexts have been discussed?

On top of the prerequisites detailed in Q.31 b), uncertainty about the legal aspect of Foosharing is a limit to transferability. Many people including activists or food retailers do not want to endorse liability for donated or saved food which hammered to a great extent for saving and sharing. Legal framework that removes liability for donated food, as the Good samaritan glass in the US will allow such initiatives to develop. However, such a regulation would come into tension with the EU regulation which requires that someone is always responsible for food and would create a free zone.

In addition, limits to transferability also depends on how people get food and how it is delivered. It is attached to the political culture and to what people see as the role of citizens and of the state. If people are used to a food blank doing this work, they might not engage themselves because it is the responsibility of government and social structures to make sure that the people have enough money to afford food (interview with O.).

32. In what forms has the learning process, including stories of overcoming obstacles, been recorded for, and/or made accessible to city makers also from elsewhere?[15]

The obstacles faced by Foodsharing.de Berlin have been recorded in the wiki of Foodsharing.de[16] as well as the response of Foodsharing Berlin (i.e. refusal to comply with the injunction).

33. Have any signs of collaboration, support, or inspiration already been reported between actors involved in this intervention and others that follow its example? (e.g. in “follower cities”?)

Foodsharing is actively expanding to other cities and sharing tools to create Foodsharing networks. The Foodsharing group is expanding in other countries with the support of German activists.

On top of the Yunity groups (see Q. 31 a), other collaborations have been reported. For example in London, a non-profit app connecting food donors to recipients called Olio[17] has been created with the support of Foodsharing members. These people have been hired by Olio to help them to develop this application. Other types of applications such as Too Good To Go try to monetize the relationships that food savers have built with restaurants and food retailers but also contribute to expanding ITC mediated food sharing. There are many other initiatives that are directly or indirectly connected to Foodsharing (interview with O.).

In addition, the SHARECITY1000 database[18] lists 124 kinds of food sharing initiatives in Berlin (including Foodsharing.de) from a range of activities including community gardens, shared means, shared bread etc… These initiatives have net been reportedly inspired from Foodsharing.de

j) Structural learning

34. Has the intervention influenced higher-level governance arrangements such that sustainability and justice are considered (together) in a more durable, structural way? In other words, are there any observations about more structural, long-term changes as a result of the intervention?

  • For example: new programs run by local councils, new modes of citizen participation, new mediating bodies
  • Is there other evidence that the project has contributed to enhancing sustainable and just governance in cities in a general sense?

The intervention does not seem to have really changed governance arrangements in a more structural way. Some People in foodsharing are also involved in local food policy councils and assimilated structures but not necessarily.

Since Foodsharinf is a loose and open network, everyone has its own motivations to commit and it is not possible to generalize the aims of everybody. whereas some members have a radical political view and aim at changing the food system and the whole economy, other people just want to have less food waste and have a food system that generates less wastes. Foodsharing works to some degree because there is space for these different motivations (more or less radical) and offer people to join the movement.

k) Reflections on important governance concepts

35. What other aspects of governance, that were not covered above, are important to highlight, too?

It seems important to stress the potential of ICT-mediated sharing for sharing initiative to develop in the future. These new forms of food sharing extend the spaces and the social sphere where sharing takes place. As they involve diverse actors such as the civil society and policy makers, tackle food regulations and ICT-mediated food sharing entail new governance arrangements. It implies a set of rules and practices being established by the interaction – conflictual or not - between citizens, entrepreneurs and policy makers to regulate food sharing. The disruptive potential of ICT-mediated sharing is also to be more inquired (SHARECITY_06).

36. From your perspective as a researcher, which word or phrase characterizes this governance intervention most concisely? (Please attach your name to the characterization) In other words, what is the biggest takeaway from this intervention about governance arrangements?

Foodsharing.de is based on a reputational economy mediated by an online platform. This study case highlights the potential of the reputational economy of ICT-mediated sharing to promote self-governance in common initiatives (SHARECITY 02: 208). Foodsharing governance arrangements offer an alternative to the current legal framework for regulating food in a more sustainable and fairer way.

Appendix 1: Three modes of governance

(from NATURVATION project)

NATURVATION's NBS-Atlas distinguishes three categories of governance arrangements (dubbed "management set-ups":

  • Government-led (Gov)
  • Co-governance or hybrid governance (mix of responsibilities between government and non-government actors) (c/h)
  • Led by non-government actors (NGO)

Alternatively or additionally, the following four modes of governing (as distinguished also by Bulkeley/Kern 2006 and Zvolska et al. 2019) could be used as a typology: Castan Broto/ Bulkeley 2013:95

  1. Self-governing, intervening in the management of local authority operations to ‘‘lead by example’’;
  2. Provision, greening infrastructure and consumer services provided by different authorities;
  3. Regulations, enforcing new laws, planning regulations, building codes, etc.; and
  4. Enabling, supporting initiatives led by other actors through information and resource provision and partnerships”

Appendix 2: Policy typology

(from NATURVATION project)

Policy typology Description Examples
Regulatory (administrative, command-and-control) Mandatory fulfillment of certain requirements by targeted actors Legislations, regulations, laws, directives, etc.
Economic (financial, market-based) Financial (dis)incentives to trigger change by providing (new) favourable (or unfavourable) economic conditions for targeted actors Positive incentive include subsidies, soft loans, tax allowance and procurments. Negative incentives are taxes, fees and charges.
Informative (educational) They aim at providing information or knowledge to target actors in order to increase awareness and support informed decision-making accomplish or prevent social change Information and awareness raising campaigns, informative leaflets, advertisements in different media.
Voluntary Commitment and/or actions beyond legal requirements, undertaken by private actors and/or non-governmental organisations. Voluntary actions and agreements.

test tableau

  1. Background to this question: Our four main criteria for selecting particular governance interventions and develop rich descriptions of them were: A) The intervention has been studied in a specific urban context (e.g. city), B) this context is located in Europe (and, preferably, the study was EU-funded), C) the intervention considers to a large extent sustainability AND justice (at least implicitly), and D) it is well-documented, ideally including assumptions or even critical reflections on enablers and barriers to implementation and on transferability (i.e. ‘de-contextualizability’). Additionally, we aimed at a diverse portfolio of domains (see Q2.) and governance modes (see Q5): https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1nCPcUd-COIQ1MsBjir20_F1CBbnSu6HqKH9nNLshiVQ/edit?usp=sharing.
  2. Foodsharing.de Wiki. Last view on 24/01/20:https://wiki.foodsharing.de/Kontext_und_Selbstverst%C3%A4ndnis
  3. Actor types according to TRANSIT’s Critical Turning Point Database, http://www.transitsocialinnovation.eu/about-ctps-in-tsi-processes.
  4. If easily possible mention sources for your association of roles.
  5. Website of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture. Last view on 24/01/20 https://www.bmel.de/EN/Food/Safe-Food/safe-food_node.html.
  6. Foodsharing.de Wiki. Last view on 24/01/20: https://wiki.foodsharing.de/Fair-Teiler_und_Abgabestellen.
  7. Foodsharing.de Wiki .Last view on24/01/20: https://wiki.foodsharing.de/Foodsharing_e.V._und_dessen_Vorstand.
  8. Foodsharing.de Wiki. Last view on24/01/20: https://wiki.foodsharing.de/Umgang_mit_Geld_bei_foodsharing.
  9. Foodsharing.de Wiki. Last view on 04/02/20: https://wiki.foodsharing.de/Kontext_und_Selbstverst%C3%A4ndnis.
  10. Last view on 04/02/20: https://www.dw.com/en/food-sharing-initiative-battles-berlin-authorities-over-closed-community-fridges/a-19042114 .
  11. Deliverable 7.1 Synthesis Report on results from Monitoring and Evaluation (p.14) : http://www.foodlinkscommunity.net/fileadmin/documents_organicresearch/foodlinks/publications/karner-etal-d-7-1.pdf .
  12. http://www.foodlinkscommunity.net/fileadmin/documents_organicresearch/foodlinks/publications/karner-etal-d-7-1.pdf .
  13. Yunity website. Last view on 26/06/20: https://yunity.org/en.
  14. Sharecity website. Last view on 04/02/20: https://sharecity.ie/getting-started-with-the-share-it-toolkit/.
  15. Feel free to include learning that has been made available through EU project documentation, intervention initiatives, or other channels. In addition to the forms in which the learning process has been shared with others, please indicate whether the learning process that’s being shared has been recorded in a self-critical/reflexive way.
  16. Foodsharing website. Fair-Teiler-Problem in Berlin. Last view on 26/06/20: https://wiki.foodsharing.de/Fair-Teiler_und_Abgabestellen.
  17. Olio website. Last view on 26/06/20: https://olioex.com/.
  18. Sharecity database. Last view on 26/06/20: https://sharecity.ie/research/sharecity100-database/.