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Students in Mexico take part in Gastromotiva’s vocational kitchen training.

Food for Change

Through partnerships, NGO aims to scale social gastronomy movement.

By David Hertz

At a time when the growing disconnect between production and consumption threatens Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 progress, chefs have a unique opportunity to help reframe food system challenges in a way that resonates with the general public.

This is because chefs are at the heart of the global food system. By transforming raw ingredients into nutritious, delicious meals, we bridge the gap between farm and fork - influencing what farmers grow and what we put on our plates.

We also have the power to curate a new global conversation about food. An inclusive, dynamic discussion that takes the economic, environmental and social issues which underpin the SDGs – climate change, agriculture, nutrition, food waste - and translates them into accessible everyday actions in our kitchens, classrooms, businesses and communities.

That was my goal when I founded Gastromotiva in 2006 – to curate a new conversation and build a movement that used the transformative power of food and gastronomy as a human centered solution, creating dignity, opportunities and inclusion through education.

Since then, we have become a driving force in the Social Gastronomy movement, promoting the power and the responsibility of food and gastronomy as a social change agent.

But, chefs cannot drive this change alone. We are one connector in a complex system. In a rapidly changing landscape, the role of the private sector has never been more important.

Creating Connections for Impact

I’m fond of saying, “Now is the moment to get together and put an end to some of the world’s ‘dumbest problems’ such as hunger, food waste, exclusion and malnutrition.” But, to achieve solutions for these problems, we need strong partners to help create connections on a global scale and drive change.

According to a recent report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, “urbanization and dietary changes in both rural and urban areas are driving the transformation of food systems and strengthening rural–urban linkages.”

One of our partners, Cargill, understands these linkages. Every day, Cargill employees connect farmers with markets, customers with nutritious ingredients and people with the food they need to grow and prosper. Like Gastromotiva, they are focused on some of our biggest challenges: Ensuring access to food, preventing food loss and waste and providing sustainable nutrition that is good for people, animals and the environment.

So for the last several years, we have worked together to touch the lives of over 100,000 people through gastronomy training towards employment, food entrepreneurship courses, nutritional and sustainable food education, business incubation programs and the sole creation of opportunities for underprivileged communities to create change around the world.

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Gastromotiva founder chef David Hertz serves a meal at Refettorio Gastromotiva.

As an example, in 2016 Gastromotiva chef Massimo Bottura from Food for Soul and Ale Forbes, supported by Cargill, launched a Food Waste Restaurant School, the Refettorio Gastromotiva, during the Rio Olympic Games. Guest chefs from the global chefs network as well as Gastromotiva students gathered food surplus that would have otherwise gone to waste from its main supplier and transformed it into healthy delicious meals for people in need. Meals were served by volunteers, restoring dignity, and offering a little bit of hope again to those underserved in our communities.

But this was only the beginning.

Rooted in the past, focused on the future

At a recent meeting of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders (YGLs), I spoke with a fellow YGL honoree, Devry Boughner Vorwerk, Cargill’s head of Corporate Affairs, about how NGOs and private sector companies such as Cargill could partner for more impact.

Both Devry and I share a passion for a food system that works for all. We both believe that food has the power to bring people together and that these connections – between people, markets and ideas – are powerful. We agreed that we have had success together, but believe more can be done.

To that end, we have formalized our partnership between Gastromotiva and Cargill, in an effort to amplify and grow the social gastronomy progress in to a full-fledged global movement. Through a community of leaders around the world, we plan to bring more educational tools, awareness and solutions to the food challenges facing our world. And we hope you will join us.

Renowned chef Massimo Bottura says, “Cooking is an act of love, and cooking is a call to action.”

I couldn’t agree more.

To get involved in the social gastronomy movement visit and join the conversation at #socialgastronomy.

About the Author:
David Hertz
, a chef and social entrepreneur, is the founder of Gastromotiva and one of the principal leaders of the Social Gastronomy Movement in Brazil and worldwide. He believes food is a powerful agent for transformation and social inclusion and he has been recognized as a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader.

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