There are a number of principles that drive Lupii, which we have shared many times before but always bear repeating:
1. We strive to eliminate waste. While waste definitely has a direct and destructive impact on the planet (and, therefore, our water systems, land, air and oceans), the reason we want to eliminate waste is because of the destruction it allows and requires in the production stream (the systems which make the stuff we all consume). When consumers demand products at low prices, it forces producers to compete to produce an excess of products at the lowest price – which necessitates (among many other horrendous practices) the razing and overuse of land for growing; the use of toxic pesticides that pollute the water and air and harm biodiversity; and the abuse and exploitation of vulnerable people. And as economic theory explains, it’s only when all the low cost producers can be compared side-by-side that the lowest cost producers can be identified (which are, as should be expected, the absolutely lowest quality producers using the most harmful and destructive practices) and their wares are snapped up by Walmart, Amazon, etc. (or H&M if we’re talking about clothing…), and all the other suppliers’ products, which have required massive destruction to produce but don’t get purchased, all go to waste. Literally, to waste, not only adding no value to the world, but taking away from the world. When the low cost producers try to recoup their costs of production, they bundle their products together in oversize bags, trying to flog their wares as 10 for the price of 2, etc. These producers who’ve spent all their money on production (albeit lowest quality production) don’t have extra resources to now ship/ transport their unwanted goods to people in need. And those in need – many times in different parts of the world from where these lowest cost items are produced – do not have the means to come claim the wasted items. And it’s not like the producers who’ve produced the low quality unwanted items are admitting their harmful behaviours by advertising “Come get our lowest quality, harmful items that no-one else wants. They’re free”.
We buy our produce from small, local organizations whose buying practices we can influence. Ideally, we’d like to work with them to eliminate over-ordering so that it reduces overproduction. We’d like to work with them to get to a point where they’re buying fewer, higher quality items that require less harm to produce and that recognize the people and resources that go into producing these items. We’d like to get to a stage where there is no more overproduction; where we’re paying for good items and nothing is being wasted, rather than having to pay for items that are being discarded or donated due to over-ordering and overproduction.
We will not buy – or get products donated from – organizations who routinely overorder, causing and requiring the perpetuation of a wasteful and harmful production stream. Lots of the organizations that orchestrated and support this wasteful system give tons of waste away to charities, and get charitable donation receipts for their donations. They look like they’re doing good, meanwhile upstream they’re causing massive human and environmental damage.
So we are VERY picky about where and from whom we get our produce, and how us getting this produce impacts the rest of the production chain.
2. We believe it’s our job to help. We believe that the government has focused on helping big, exploitative business at the people’s expense. The government gives big tax breaks and economic support to big businesses that routinely lower wages and remove employee benefits, while making it harder for citizens to access healthy food, affordable housing and childcare. The government is not changing. Citizens vote for the government, and citizens routinely vote for lowering taxes, thereby lowering the amount of money available for public services.
So normal, everyday people have to do something to change the system. And we believe that’s where we need to step up and step in. We cannot wait for “them”. There is no “them”. There are loads of services and products and offering for those with means. We are not one of them. And there definitely are other offerings that provide services for people without means (like some of the amazing organizations mentioned by commenters to our previous post – like Quest, who are awesome!, and many Neighbourhood Houses that give away free produce). We are not suggesting by ANY stretch of the imagination that there aren’t other amazing organizations out there. We’re just saying that we feel it’s our obligation and privilege to provide help in our community. We’ve done all we can for 3 years, and we would very much like to continue doing it – but we’re at the stage where we need help. Not from those who are unable to help, but from those who ARE able to help.
And we have seen that despite the amazing organizations around that are doing amazing things for their communities, it’s not enough. People spend full days transitting to Lupii to get free food. This is not greed. This is necessity. We need to help if we can.
If you can’t, that’s completely understandable. But if you can, we’d be truly grateful for your help.
3. We want to help support community. Community to us means working together to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes. We believe that by helping other people in our neighbourhood to achieve the things that are important to them, we all benefit. So, by us making it possible for some members of our community to get access to free, fresh, healthy food, those community members don’t have to spend their time and money on sourcing that produce. That time and money can now be spent on other things that will increase the quality of their lives, which in turn contributes to the health and welfare of our community.
Over the past year of this program we have observed that dozens of participants in this program share this interpretation of community. They have made connections with others, picked up food on behalf of and shared the produce they collect with neighbours who do not have the means or opportunity to come get the food themselves. Through this, they ensure that their neighbours have healthy food and human connection. Through this they enable their neighbours to spend their time and effort on other necessary activities, which ultimately contribute to the upliftment of the community