Skip to main content
Our story

More than 38 years that we exist...

In the winter of 1985, Europe’s fridges and grain silos are full.

Yet bellies are empty and once more, people will die of cold and hunger …

A Walloon politician submitted a proposal on poverty in Europe to the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Unfortunately, the idea failed to gain any traction...

... It did, however, appeal to an artist in France, a comedian by the name of Coluche, (Michel Colucci) who raised his voice and appealed to the French people on the airwaves of Europe 1 on 26 September 1985.

The appeal was heard by students at the Solvay Business School. Artists, politicians, farmers and anonymous people got involved, as did journalists of the time, helped by major retail groups.

21 December 1985 marked the official opening of the Restos du Coeur in Belgium.

A handful of students from the Solvay business school got together to work on a project as part of their studies. They had no idea of the scale of the food shortage in Belgium. It was with great emotion and efficiency that they took the reins of the logistics for gigantic canteens, distributing more than 6,000 meals a day at the end of the winter of 1986.

Belgium and France both embarked on the fight against poverty. The considerable success of Belgian sales of CDs and DVDs by Les Enfoirés did not benefit Belgium, and even less so the poorest of its citizens.

The Restos du Coeur concept at the time was based on various observations:

  • The fourth world was acquiring enormous proportions: there were millions of genuinely poor people in Europe.

  • People affected by poverty are the first victims of nutritional deficiencies, with serious consequences for their health.

  • The cost of health care and social security charges are higher than the aid, particularly food aid, provided to the poor.

  • Many food surpluses go spoiled, destroyed or put on the external market at loss-making prices... And yet many people suffer from hunger, some to the point of losing their lives!

Restos du Coeur's proposal

For their part, the Resto du Coeur proposed that surplus food withdrawn from the EEC market be made available, free of charge or at a modest price, to public social welfare centres (CPAS), schools, reception centres and charities.

Coluche and the Restos du Coeur

Coluche and the Restos du Coeur are the story of a magnificent association. Coluche came from a modest background and a poor neighbourhood, Montrouge, the area, the hutch, the ghetto par excellence.

"Feeding the most disadvantaged is all very well, but it's only the tip of the iceberg!” he said.

When he died in a road accident on 19 June 1986, Coluche bequeathed a huge challenge for everyone.

After bringing the Belgian Restos du Coeur concept to France, Coluche returned on 22 February 1986 to launch the creation of the Restos du Coeur in Belgium... and more specifically to inaugurate the Resto du Coeur of Liège!

The Belgian concept differed from that of its French neighbour from the outset: opening a shelter for 3 months was fine, but leaving people out in the cold for 9 months after giving them hope of a better life was just being blind. The Belgian Restos du Coeur therefore decided to open year round, at different times depending on the season. As in France, the service offered to the destitute soon extended beyond the provision of meals.

Initiatives were launched in Mons, Mouscron, Namur, St Gilles and Wavre, leading to the creation of a Federation in 1991 to promote the name and reputation of the Restos du Coeur of Belgium and to ensure that a common charter was respected by all the entities, which were autonomous from a functional and administrative point of view as well. The Federation has provided substantial financial support to the organisations for the past 15 years, thanks to the generosity of the public and a number of corporate partners.

Said Federation comprises 20 Restaurants (14 in Wallonia, 4 in Flanders and 2 in Brussels) and 5 branches, spread throughout Belgium.

There are also 3 Mobile Restos du Coeur which travel throughout Wallonia and certain disadvantaged areas of the Brussels region.


We welcomed two new Resto du Coeur candidates, Aarschot and Val de Sambre, bringing the total number of Resto du Coeur in Belgium to 19.


restos du coeur notre histoire

Restos du Coeur our story: 21 December, Resto du Coeur and the Federation celebrated 35 years of grassroots action in Belgium.

June, a second mobile Resto du Coeur was launched.


Two new Resto du Coeur candidates were welcomed, Mons and Tienen. A total of 17 Resto du Coeur in Belgium.


In October, a new 800 m² storage hangar was inaugurated at the Federation.


In July, we inaugurated our mobile Resto du Coeur, which travelled every week on Wednesdays to Bouillon and Fridays to Hastière to help more than 300 disadvantaged people by delivering food parcels.

In 2021, our Mobile Resto du Coeur will visit 6 municipalities: Beaumont, Bouillon, Wellin, Barvaux, Hastière and Hamois.

More than 800 families will be helped every month.


The Restos du Coeur celebrated their 30th anniversary.


To meet the needs of an increasingly vulnerable population, The Resto du Coeur of Belgium Federation accredited the creation of a new Resto du Coeur candidate, La Louvière.


25 years: the 15 Restos du Coeur and the Federation officially celebrated 25 years of grassroots action in Belgium.


The Federation becomes a National Federation with the opening of Resto du Coeur in Flanders.


Birth of the Resto du Coeur of Belgium Federation. The Restos du Coeur on the ground join forces to form a Federation of Restos du Coeur. Over the years, Brussels, Liège, Mouscron, Mons and Wavre are joined by other entities that open their doors in different towns in Wallonia.


"La loi Coluche" [Coluche Law] is passed in France: a tax provision granting tax relief for donations to associations that provide food, care or accommodation to people in need.

Belgium had to wait until 1992.


Coluche landed in Bierset to support all the Restos du Coeur in Belgium officially. He took part in the first concert at the Hall des Foires de Coronmeuse [Coronmeuse Exhibition Centre] in Liège.

Coluche addressed the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Thanks to this speech, the European Council opened the European Community surplus fridges in 1987: the European Food Aid Programme (PEAD), rechristened FEAD (Fund for European Aid to the most Deprived) since and better known as BIRB in Belgium.


(12/1985) The idea was launched... The first Resto du Coeur opened its doors in Belgium on 21 December 1985.

The idea of Coluche's Restos du Coeur was immediately taken up by students at the Solvay Business School. They organised themselves to take charge of the management, centralisation and coordination in Belgium. Contacts were made in every country with food firms and businesses, transport companies, etc., and with private individuals who had time to spare or equipment to lend. This surge of solidarity extended to Brussels, Wavre, Liège, Mons and Charleroi.

Coluche's idea: live on Europe 1, Coluche raged against the waste of a consumer society, while denouncing the destruction of agricultural surpluses in France and Europe. "When there are food surpluses and they are destroyed to maintain market prices, we could recover them and try to set up a big canteen to give food to all those who are hungry".

The idea was launched…

At the European Parliament: MEP José Happart took the floor to denounce the economic situation affecting millions of people. "It is unacceptable that the cost of health care and the burdens of poverty will be greater than the cost of providing food aid to the segments of society concerned” He therefore called for these surpluses, stored and destroyed at great cost, to be made available to those in need.

Nous aider

Support the Resto du Coeur of Belgium



Help us fight poverty by making a donation according to your means. Every donation counts.


Support our association by becoming a partner and launch an action to benefit the Resto du Coeur.


Find the Resto du Coeur nearest you! Contact details, activities on offer... Find all the information you need.