The logo of Refettorio Geneva shines light on the city’s legacy and its vibrant union of cultures, science, finance and the arts. Its colourful red and gold reflects the Canton of Geneva’s 18th century coat of arms. Geneva’s world-renowned CERN and its Celestial Sphere, are interwoven together to symbolize dynamism, interconnectivity and circularity, the fundaments of Refettorio Geneva’s sustainable model. This symbolism also represents the project’s commitment to promote social well-being, peace, and humanitarian diplomacy, in a space that manifests innovation and environmental best practice, where everyone feels welcome, as a citizen of the world and of the global community.
Refettorio Geneva led by non-profit organization Fondazione Mater brings together the gastronomy sector and humanitarian field to drive resilience and social impact in space that celebrates innovation, creativity, science and design. Building on the strong foundation of multidisciplinary interconnections in Geneva, the cultural project offers opportunities to model community development and civic leadership. The Refettorio activities will enable sustainable food and health systems to reduce social vulnerabilities and improve well-being for those most in need while bridging inclusivity through the integration of humanities and the arts, education and culinary apprenticeships and study. Together Fondazione Mater and Food for Soul will work to strengthen the ecosystem of empathy and compassion historically known in Geneva, mobilizing community organizations, private and non profit partnerships, the public and government sectors and volunteerism to scale environmental restorative best practices with programs and services that open pathways for social and economic mobility. Through its guiding principles the Value of Hospitality, Power of Beauty and Quality of Ideas, the Refettorio will scale the impact of Fondazione Mater with food and cultural activities that articulate the needs of today while paving the needs of tomorrow.
Volunteers help us ensure our programs and services meet the needs of the community. Whether you love food, are dedicated to sustainability or simply want to give back, we welcome you to join us. Let us know your time, interest and what would make a great volunteer experience for you.
Help Refettorio Geneva build a culture in which the local community feels a sense of belonging, where no individual or food is left behind. Your contribution will sustain and grow impact, helping to reduce food waste, improve food security and sustain job training and workforce for those in greatest need.
Food for Soul is a cultural nonprofit organization advocating for socially responsible actions that improve the health of our planet and well-being of people. Since the opening of Refettorio Ambrosiano, Milan in 2015, founders Chef Massimo Bottura and Lara Gilmore have been empowering and mobilizing local communities to reduce food loss and waste and support social inclusion. By enabling the transformation of people, places and food, Food for Soul’s mission aims to scale a culture of value to foster food systems that are sustainable, healthy and equitable that bridge opportunities for social and economic mobility and strengthen resilience for all.
Fondazione MATER is a nonprofit foundation, based in Geneva. The foundation was established in 2020 by chef Walter el Nagar, whose reputation as a chef goes hand in hand with his commitment to social engagement. The aim of the foundation is to promote social inclusion through nutrition, to provide access to a balanced diet for vulnerable people or victims of social exclusion, and to combat food waste. MATER offers high-end contemporary cuisine for all, including those who cannot afford it. It is at the same time, both a “social and culinary experience”, through selecting local, seasonal produce and adhering to a zero-waste policy.
Refettorio Geneva will serve complete, well-balanced meals to people in situations of poverty, isolation or exclusion, in coordination with the other humanitarian organizations in Geneva with a service of hospitality, welcoming people in need with dignity and a moment of peace and well-being. As a central part of the programming, the Refettorio will develop nutritional programmes to be shared with organizations involved in the fight against hunger and will use imperfect and surplus or oversupplies of food producers and retailers. With the support of recognized volunteer ambassador chefs and academic partnerships, the program framework of the Refettorio will host stage programs, vocational training programs for young generations of next chefs and those individuals vulnerable to engage in experiential learning to try out their gastronomic ideas as a business incubator in a social enterprise environment.
“At Refettorio Geneva, we want to continue promoting creativity and innovation and share it with everyone who has the desire and spirit to improve, evolve and innovate, making them participants in past, present and future experience, researching and experimenting to accelerate talent and help everyone involved, everyone seeking their own limits.”
Refettorio Geneva will be a model of Social, Environmental and Economic Sustainability, offering a daily evening meal with hospitality and conviviality for those in need of food assistance, experiencing social isolation, homelessness and marginalization. These efforts started through Fondazione MATER’s community meal initiatives, preparing approximately 200 nutritious meals packaged and served in the community; transitioning into the Refettorio dining area once renovations are complete and COVID safety measures allow. The space will be the backdrop of a MATER social enterprise restaurant concept opening for lunch five days per week to the public and the students of the universities. The services will highlight the programs zero waste food model in a fine dining atmosphere and be an extension of the advocacy and vocational training programs while sustaining operations to nurture the stability and self-sufficiency for those experiencing food insecurity. The Refettorio will also be home to supportive and cultural activities that harness the beauty of it’s design and the city of Geneva through lectures, workshops and art interventions that cultivate a shared sense of community, placemaking and knowledge.
In line with the objectives of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the aim of the Refettorio is to reconcile gastronomic cuisine with environmentally friendly local production and the social responsibility of the actors involved, all within a circular economy project. Besides achieving a goal of creating a zero-waste food recovery system and involving the local entire food service, education, SDGs sustainability sector, Refettorio Geneva will collect data and build a research network on food recovery systems with the aim of creating Action Guides which could become a sharable model.
The Refettorio will be part of a network of organizations and institutions which will help the promotion of its values. It will also create a strong collaboration with universities and industrial design schools to unfold the full potential of the gathering around a table by engaging the beneficiaries, actively, in discussion sessions about problems and solutions in the shape of a ‘World Cafè’.
Thanks to its strategic position, neighborhood by the vast majority of the more important diplomatic, economic and political organizations in the world, the Refettorio will host symposiums and assembly with partner organizations and will transform its space into a research and development incubator.