Plans for Malmö’s first food bank to open in 2020

'Food for everyone who wants it' is the motto of a new food bank currently in the works in Malmö, which is being set up to combat both food waste and hunger.

Plans for Malmö's first food bank to open in 2020
Volunteers bring in a food delivery to the offices. Photo: Johan Nilsson / TT

Social and cultural centre Kontrapunkt has been collecting food which would otherwise be wasted for years, and passing it on to people in need by serving meals four days a week. But they found that they still had a surplus of food, and decided to offer it directly to anyone who needed it through a food bank.

Ten volunteers will work at the food bank, handling two tonnes of food each day, received from local shops and businesses who have produce leftover. No questions will be asked of the recipients, and no checks will be carried out.

“People will be able to come here and take the food they need for the day,” said Kalle Palmgren, one of the volunteers working on the new food bank. “This will be the first such place that is open to all.”

A 'social supermarket' that opened in Stockholm in 2015 was the first Nordic food bank at the time, but membership was only granted to people on income support or who were understood to be jobless or on a very low income.

The plan is for the Malmö food bank to open officially in 2020, but according to Johanna Nilsson from Kontrapunkt, it already sees between 30 and 40 visitors each day. 

Nilsson said the centre comes into contact with many people who don't have sufficient food.

“When we ran [a food bank] as a pilot project for five months we had up to 100 people every day who came to get food and queued outside; everyone from students to undocumented migrants to families with children,” she said.

“But what we noticed was that the biggest group was pensioners and older people.”

The difference between the pilot project and the new plans is that the centre now wants to be a registered food bank with a permanent location for food distribution.

The volunteers at Kontrapunkt believe that food poverty is a growing problem in Sweden, even if the term itself hasn't been used so much. A recent report from Stadsmissionen shows that there are many people in Sweden who do not have enough food to eat. 

The study was carried out by Magnus Karlsson, a professor in social work, who mapped Stadsmission's work and found that out of 300,000 actions carried out by the organization over a five-year period, an “overwhelming proportion” related to food.

Karlsson also pointed to a Norwegian study from 2016 which estimated that between one and four percent of people in the Nordics lived in food poverty.

“I believe that number has been calculated too low, and I think we have a greater number of people who live in huge uncertainty when it comes to food, when and where they will get their next meal,” he said.

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The three tasty treats that make spring in Sweden a forager’s dream

Although parts of Sweden are still under snow at this time of year, spring is in full swing here in Skåne in the south of Sweden. Here are The Local's top tips for what you can forage in the great outdoors this season.

The three tasty treats that make spring in Sweden a forager's dream

You might already have your go-to svampställe where you forage mushrooms in autumn, but mushrooms aren’t the only thing you can forage in Sweden. The season for fruits and berries hasn’t quite started yet, but there is a wide range of produce on offer if you know where to look.

Obviously, all of these plants grow in the wild, meaning it’s a good idea to wash them thoroughly before you use them. You should also be respectful of nature and of other would-be foragers when you’re out foraging, and make sure not to take more than your fair share to ensure there’s enough for everyone.

As with all foraged foods, only pick and eat what you know. The plants in this guide do not look similar to any poisonous plants, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry – or ask someone who knows for help.

Additionally, avoid foraging plants close to the roadside or in other areas which could be more polluted. If you haven’t tried any of these plants before, start in small doses to make sure you don’t react negatively to them.

Wild garlic plants in a park in Alnarpsparken, Skåne. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Wild garlic

These pungent green leaves are just starting to pop up in shady wooded areas, and may even hang around as late as June in some areas. Wild garlic or ramsons, known as ramslök in Swedish, smell strongly of garlic and have wide, flat, pointed leaves which grow low to the ground.

The whole plant is edible: leaves, flowers and the bulbs underground – although try not to harvest too many bulbs or the plants won’t grow back next year.

The leaves have a very strong garlic taste which gets weaker once cooked. Common recipes for wild garlic include pesto and herb butter or herbed oil, but it can generally be used instead of traditional garlic in most recipes. If you’re cooking wild garlic, add it to the dish at the last possible moment so it still retains some flavour.

You can also preserve the flower buds and seed capsules as wild garlic capers, known as ramslökskapris in Swedish, which will then keep for up to a year.

Stinging nettles. Wear gloves when harvesting these to protect yourself from their needles. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Stinging nettles

Brännässlor or stinging nettles need to be cooked before eating to remove their sting, although blanching them for a couple of seconds in boiling water should do the trick. For the same reason, make sure you wear good gardening gloves when you pick them so you don’t get stung.

Nettles often grow in the same conditions as wild garlic – shady woodlands, and are often regarded as weeds.

The younger leaves are best – they can get stringy and tough as they get older.

A very traditional use for brännässlor in Sweden is nässelsoppa, a bright green soup made from blanched nettles, often topped with a boiled or poached egg.

Some Swedes may also remember eating stuvade nässlor with salmon around Easter, where the nettles are cooked with cream, butter and milk. If you can’t get hold of nettles, they can be replaced with spinach for a similar result.

You can also dry nettles and use them to make tea, or use blanched nettles to make nettle pesto.

Kirskål or ground elder, another popular foraged green for this time of year.
Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Ground elder

Ground elder is known as kirskål in Swedish, and can be used much in the same way as spinach. It also grows in shady areas, and is an invasive species, meaning that you shouldn’t be too worried about foraging too much of it (you might even find some in your garden!).

It is quite common in parks and old gardens, but can also be found in wooded areas. The stems and older leaves can be bitter, so try to focus on foraging the tender, younger leaves.

Ground elder has been cultivated in Sweden since at least 500BC, and has been historically used as a medicinal herb and as a vegetable. This is one of the reasons it can be found in old gardens near Swedish castles or country homes, as it was grown for use in cooking.

Kirskål is available from March to September, although it is best eaten earlier in the season.

As mentioned, ground elder can replace spinach in many recipes – you could also use it for pesto, in a quiche or salad, or to make ground elder soup.