Most of the people who live in the Algarve have a certain amount of money, some a lot, some just enough, to feed every person in their household, and have the privilege of opening the fridge or the pantry and picking different things out to make a meal or two. They can afford to have a choice of clothing in their wardrobe, and when they fancy something new, they just go out and buy it.

Some are less fortunate. In fact, some don’t even have a fridge, and their pantries are empty. Or don’t have running water, or even electricity or gas, and sleep all in one room because that’s all they have, sharing blankets in the cold weather. Unbelievable isn’t it? In an area where there is obvious affluence, people dress well, eat well, and even have enough left over at the end of the week to have a meal out in a restaurant. But below the surface are needy families who, through no fault of their own, have illnesses that prevent the breadwinner from working, some can’t get work for whatever reason, or those that can, can’t earn enough to feed their whole - maybe extended - family. So, they stretch their measly budgets, and there still isn’t enough. They swallow their pride; they ask for help.

What Does Refood Do?

This is where The Refood Movement steps in. They build a bridge between excess and need, without fuss, without fanfare, just working silently in the background. They invite the entire local community to be part of a 100% voluntary movement that transforms not only waste into nutrition but also the lives of everyone involved in a true circular and solidarity economy – driven by goodwill. Many hotels and some supermarkets contribute leftover food, and volunteers will collect and redistribute it from their central depots.

Credits: Facebook; Author: @refoodportugal;

The daily action of the Refood Movement has immediate effects: good food does not go to waste, people do not go hungry, citizens can donate a small part of their time to change the world in their neighbourhood, local companies can activate their duty to social and environmental responsibility and everyone can actively participate in a circular economy that produces social good in their own local community. Local hotels and supermarkets that have food that would go to waste under normal circumstances give this food to Refood, and it is shared between needy families.

This doesn’t happen on its own. They need volunteers to make it work – a volunteer need only give up 2 hours a week on a regular basis where possible. Invariably, this experience generates a return on investment (translated into happiness), resulting in a desire to continue.

They need helpers to make this happen

Refood is the first step towards escaping poverty, and the greatest direct social benefit of Refood’s work is to eradicate hunger, as the inclusion and feeding of needy families reduces inequalities, on top of all this, they are able to transform waste into nutritious food for all those who ask. Complete anonymity is paramount, and volunteers have a number of families they ‘look after’ by dropping food around as regularly as donations allow.

Credits: Facebook; Author: @refoodportugal;

The experience of volunteer managers guarantees the continuity of the teams, with environmental sustainability being at the heart of their operation, as each meal rescued not only prevents waste but also helps our environment. Their community approach and inclusion model (contacting, inviting, and including people, companies, local institutions, etc.) to participate with their time, food or other material support is a process that guarantees the operational costs of each local centre, of which there are several.

They need volunteers to help make it all work, and would only cost you, the volunteer, a couple of hours’ work a week. The centres in the Algarve are in Albufeira (Guia), Faro, Almancil, Portimão, Tavira and Vila Real de Santo António.

For more information visit Refood’s national website:


Marilyn writes regularly for The Portugal News, and has lived in the Algarve for some years. A dog-lover, she has lived in Ireland, UK, Bermuda and the Isle of Man. 

Marilyn Sheridan