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[Trailblazer Celebration] Refettorio Paris Turns Surplus Food Into Delicious Meals for Hundreds of Vulnerable People

By September 23, 2019

Refettorio are Trailblazers

This month, we’re sharing inspiring stories from our European Trailblazers. Follow #NGOTrailblazer on Twitter and keep an eye on the blog for weekly updates. This week, we’re in Paris learning about Refettorio, the inspiring community kitchen at the heart of the city’s capital.

Refettorio is a global programme run by nonprofit Food for Soul that turns surplus food into fine dining for society’s most vulnerable people. 

With the help of its partners and a network of volunteers, the organisation transforms neglected spaces into inspiring community kitchens. And these are no ordinary kitchens. Guests are welcomed into spaces created by top architects and designers, served a three-course meal cooked by renowned chefs, and given five-star table service by a team of volunteers.

Refettorio Paris first opened its doors in March 2018. The kitchen, which is a collaborative project between Food for Soul and Le Foyer de la Madeleine, serves 80 guests every day in a church crypt in the centre of the city. 

The Refettorio employs eight people, which is supplemented by a pool of 1,200 volunteers who wait on tables and welcome guests. Guest chefs from top restaurants across Paris and France also volunteer in the kitchen, supporting the resident chefs to prepare delicious and seasonal meals.

In addition to providing a nutritious meal, Refettorio helps to make vulnerable people feel respected and connected to the local community. The Paris kitchen also saves 130 kilogrammes of surplus food from landfill every day. 

16000 meals served by Refettorio

Demonstrating and tracking community impact

Refettorio Paris works with four partner organisations to ensure its tables are filled every day. Each organisation reserves a place for 20 people every evening via an online booking system built on Salesforce. Guests are chosen from 500 Refettorio card-holders who have been assessed as needing additional support. 

Cards are scanned on arrival and details are captured in Salesforce. This allows the nonprofit to track attendance, the number of meals served, and its long-term impact on the community. In the future, it plans to leverage the data stored in Salesforce to ensure it is supporting vulnerable people as effectively as possible, for example by varying the frequency of visits by guests depending on their needs.  

Refettorio is already using the data it captures to share impact reports with partners and donors. This is important both for attracting food and financial support. For example, one Paris foodbank requires Refettorio to prove it has met certain criteria before it will provide contributions to the kitchen.

Refettorio has one unified purpose

Building stronger relationships

With hundreds of partner, volunteer, guest, and employee relationships to manage, Refettorio needs to maintain close connections as well as clear boundaries. For example, the organisation communicates regularly with volunteers and shares other volunteering opportunities for its partners. However, it only directly communicates with guests while they’re on the premises in order to maintain the trust and support of partner organisations.

To help attract volunteers and make it as easy as possible to capture volunteer details, Refettorio has also worked with Salesforce to build an app that integrates with both its website and Salesforce platform. Volunteers can register quickly and easily and are kept up to date via automated emails, making it easy for them to volunteer when they can.

Refettorio Paris is a young project with big ambitions: it has already served more than 16,000 meals since its launch but it also wants to offer more practical support to its guests to help them build brighter futures. For example, the nonprofit is currently developing a project to offer internships in its kitchen and restaurant to pass on the skills needed to secure a job in hospitality.

Refettorio Paris doesn’t just provide a hot meal, it also offers guests a warm welcome in beautiful surroundings and helps them to build connections. By enabling parties from very different backgrounds to connect on a human level, the venture is also helping to create a stronger, more inclusive society. 


Want to learn how Refettorio Paris is transforming the concept of community kitchens using Salesforce?

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