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The context

Solidarity to face food insecurity

Food insecurity means not having sufficient access to healthy and balanced food. A factor in physical and psychological illness, it can also cause isolation and exclusion of people who suffer from it. In France, the 14,7% of the population lives under the poverty line and 5.5 million people benefit from food assistance. According to the government, this total could reach 8 million people by the end of 2020 due to the covid-19 crisis. The French network ‘Banques alimentaires’ can help only one person out of two. Helping families in poverty to feed themselves, creating social lies and solidarity, is the belief of the non-profit organization Ernest.

The creation of Ernest

The Ernest project started with Eva Jaurena and Laura Bouillic, two friends who wanted to create a solidarity café where 10 cents would be debited from bills to finance meals for the homeless. Facing increasing social inequalities, and with their desire to have a job that is meaningful to them, they have acted for a more social and fraternal world through food.

In July 2013, they have created a solidarity restaurant with their non-profit organization ‘Circuit court de solidarité’. The project became bigger and bigger while the teams grew with graphists, gastronomes, workers of the social and solidarity economy, law experts and the organization was renamed Ernest.

Soon, Ernest have launched a program named the ‘Programme des Paniers solidaires’ in Paris, thanks to the participation of restaurant owners from the 10th, 11th and 20th districts. Because of its great success, the project reached then Bordeaux, London and Toulouse.

The project

The aim is simple: a restaurant owner sells a dish, a menu, or a coffee few cents more. This surplus generated on the bill is the ‘Pourmanger’, which means ‘For eat’ in French. Then, Ernest collects the funds generated in the contributing restaurants, in order to buy baskets of vegetables produced locally and redistributed to social centers.

Ernest is in relation with 6 social centers where the social workers identified the families to give them the baskets. The association finances 80% of the purchase cost, and families only 20%. Workshops with restaurant owners and families are also co-animated by the association, in order to educate them and introduce them to cooking healthy and easy dishes, create social lies and share a meal together at the end of each workshop.

To encourage local distribution channels, Ernest works with local producers. The baskets come from the “Jardin d’insertion du Pont blanc”, 25 km from Paris, where organic vegetables are cultivated by people with social and professional difficulties which hinder their access to employment. In Bordeaux, a cooperative of farm workers provides the vegetables.

Today, 200 chefs and solidarity restaurants in Paris, Bordeaux, Toulouse and London and 140 beneficiary families are in the Ernest network. In 2018, a campaign in eastern Paris with 21 restaurant owners raised 36 000€, which enable the purchase of 1541 baskets of vegetables for 60 families.

The little more

  • Once a month, the Ernest’s team and volunteers with a chef, collect unsold food or donations from suppliers, cook and deliver food to a food distribution association
  • A restaurant, Mingway, created by the founder of Ernest, Eva Jaurena, and two managers of solidarity restaurants, Florent Ciccoli et Grégory Black involved since 2015
  • Solidarity brunches, food and musical events, which gather up to 1000 participants, and the profits of which finance the association's food aid programs. The most recent, the CHEFFES festival held in early September 2020, honoured female chefs to raise funds
  • Participation in food festivals, musical and solidarity events, such as the Refugee Food in Bordeaux or the We Love Green Festival
  • 40 000 meals cooked by Ernest's chefs and volunteers for food aid during lockdown

Cette fiche initiative a été rédigée par Pénélope Bresch and the traduction by Lisa Kamal, volontaires LFC - septembre 2020.

Last modification : 17 Nov 2020.


Paris France

Ernest, c’est un réseau de restaurateurs solidaires qui finance des programmes d'aide alimentaire en prônant une solidarité de proximité, les circuits courts et le bien mangé. Pour cela, Ernest a mis en place le "pourmanger" : Il s’agit d’un pourboire qui permet de financer des programmes d‘aide alimentaire et ainsi donner à manger à ceux qui en ont besoin. Mais Ernest, ce n’est pas que les Paniers solidaires, c’est aussi un restaurant et c’est aussi une association qui organise des festivals et événements pour financer des projets de solidarité alimentaire.


Ernest Association