In the framework of the INTERREG V-A Greece – Bulgaria 2014-2020 programme, the two cooperating countries are implementing the ‘Supporting Social Enterprises in combating poverty and social exclusion project’ (‘Social Plate’). The action line of the project concerns combating poverty and social exclusion, and supporting social agencies with the same goals.
Title: Supporting Social Enterprises in combating poverty and social exclusion
Distinctive title: «SOCIAL PLATE»
Project duration: 24 months
Priority Axis: 4. An inter-border area with no exclusions
Thematic goal: 09 – Combating poverty, discrimination and social exclusion
Investment Priority: 9c. Providing support to social enterprises
The idea for ‘Social Plate’ was developed by TH.C.M. (Thessaloniki Central Market) S.A., as a solution to the problems of poverty and social exclusion and the need to protect the environment. The goal of the programme is to provide food for weaker social groups, to provide work to the long-term unemployed, and to limit food waste. An indispensable part of the idea is to disseminate this solution to all social strata and gain their active participation, in order to achieve a change in course and attitude towards food waste matters.
Every day, traders of TH.C.M. S.A. deliver non-marketable goods to the organic waste management office of the company and, under the supervision of the head of quality control, the products are separated into those that are fit for consumption and those that are not. Subsequently, with the help of volunteers from the agencies that benefit from the programme, they are repackaged. Social agencies of the region (Social Grocery Stores, Non-Governmental Organisations, Church Kitchens, Collectives, etc.) that are working with the programme receive the recovered products and distribute them, cooked or raw, to vulnerable social groups in our society. Thus, the homeless, the unemployed, refugees, and anyone in need of a plate of food, can get just that, thanks to the all the volunteers working with ‘Social Plate’.
The Cooperation Programme “Greece-Bulgaria 2014-2020” was approved by the European Commission on 13/12/2016 by Decision C(2016)8708.
Budget:The total budget (ERDF and national contribution) for the European Territorial Programme “Greece-Bulgaria 2007-2013” is €130,262,835.00 .The total financing consists of €110.723.409,75 (85%) ERDF funding and €19.539.425,25 (15%) national contribution.
Eligible area: The eligible area of the Programme consists of the Region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace (Prefectures of Evros, Kavala, Xanthi, Rodopi and Drama) and the Region of Central Macedonia (Prefectures of Thessaloniki and Serres) in Greece and the South-Central Planning Region and South-West Planning Region (Districts of Blagoevgrad, Smolyan, Kardjali and Haskovo) in Bulgaria.
Project duration: 24 months
The Greece-Bulgaria cross-border cooperation area for the programming period 2014-2020 is identical to the current ETC programme. It extends to 40.202 km2 and has a total population of 2.7 million inhabitants. It covers four territorial units at NUTS II level (Regions), and 11 territorial units at NUTS III level (Districts). The eligible area extends across the entire Greek-Bulgarian border and is neighbouring with Turkey (east) and FYROM (west), both countries aspiring to access to the EU. It is part of the most south-eastern non-insular area of EU, and it is situated between three seas: the Black Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and the Ionian-Adriatic Sea. Finally, it sits at the crossroad of strategic fossil fuel pipelines supplying the EU market and TEN transport axes.
The settlement structure of the area is characterized by the presence of 10 medium-large cities (>50.000 inhabitants) which accumulate 38,2% of total population, and 25 small cities (10.000-50.000 inhabitants).
Despite the historically relatively small amounts of funds allocated, there is a long history of cooperation in the eligible area, which started with Community initiative INTERREG I (1989-1993).
The priority axes are:
PA 1: A Competitive and Entrepreneurship Promoting Cross-Border Area
PA 2: A Sustainable and climate adaptable Cross-Border area
PA 3: A better interconnected Cross-Border Area
PA 4: A socially inclusive Cross-Border area
PA 5: Technical Assistance
Since the project began (23/04/2018) and within four months of operation, the ‘Social Plate’ team has handled more than 150,000 kilos of fruits and vegetables, from which more than 90,000 kilos were recovered and offered to our fellow people, while at the same time stopping the transformation of this quantity into organic waste. More than 35 agencies participate in the distribution (Social Grocery Stores, NGOs, Foundations, Church Kitchens) and we aim to increase that number.
As food waste has multiple consequences, such an initiative is of crucial importance. The goals of the Thessaloniki Central Market and of all the people participating in the project, are to limit food waste, combat malnutrition, and recycle packaging and correctly manage organic waste.
We hope that our action will be a source of information and inspiration for the whole world. It will be the call to arms for the support of the economy in a viable way, for the development of empathy towards our fellow people who are in danger of poverty and social exclusion, and towards the need to protect the environment. We need everyone’s active participation on an individual and collective level. We are looking for support, synergy, and cooperation with major state agencies, private businesses, solidarity organisations, collectives, and volunteers.
We want to thank all those people who are donating their time, their hard work, and their love in order to help.
Thessaloniki Central Market S.A. – Greece
Municipality of Borino – Bulgaria