Dubai: Authorities rolled out the UAE Food Bank project with Dubai Municipality opening the first food bank off Al Khail Road in Al Quoz on Wednesday.
Announced by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai in January, the UAE Food Bank project aims to reduce food wastage and feed people in need in the country and abroad.
The project is expected to cut an estimated Dh4b lost in food waste in the country every year and help feed the needy as far as in Somalia in the later phases.
Hussain Nasser Lootah, director general of Dubai Municipality officially inaugurated the first Food Bank which includes a site office and two refrigerated containers to store dry, packaged and canned foods donated by food establishments.
Two food safety inspectors are stationed at the office to monitor the safety of donated food. Charity groups that have partnered with the project will collect these food items and distribute to the needy.
Lootah said some 30 such banks will be opened across the emirates. Five will be set up in Dubai by the end of this year.
Twenty food establishments including major hotel groups and hyper market and supermarket chains signed the agreements to donate food. They were issued account numbers for the food bank.
Ten authorized charities also signed the agreements to collect and distribute the food from the food bank to the needy. They will also directly collect ready-to-eat and perishable food donated by food establishments. The municipality has also partnered with logistics companies for the project.
All the partners have to abide by food safety and hygiene rules stipulated by Dubai Municipality to ensure that donated food is safe for consumption.
Lootah hoped that the project will help cut food wastage and serve the needy throughout the world. “We want to minimise the amount of food going to waste and we want to support the needy in the UAE and also our brothers in countries like Somalia.”
Mohammad Abdullah Alhaj Al Zaroni, manager of Emirates Red Crescent in Dubai told Gulf News the UAE stands fourth in terms of food wastage across the world.
“We are just behind Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and the US. Every person is waste 196kg of food every year,” he said, quoting international data.
Al Zaroni said agencies like Red Crescent will collect food from the Food Bank for donating to needy countries as well.
The registered donors were allocated account numbers for the Food Bank. Officials said donations will be electronically recorded and will be routed through a new app.
“It will be like in the bank. Every time they add more food, it is accounted for. Later on we will evaluate who has supported us the most and they will be rewarded,” said Lootah.
Food bank fridges to help UAE residents donate food in Ramadan
Dubai: Come Ramadan, residents in the UAE will be able to contribute to the UAE Food Bank project by donating food through special fridges that will be placed across the country.
During the launch of the first Food Bank on Wednesday, Hussain Nasser Lootah, director general of Dubai Municipality, announced that the UAE Food Bank fridges will be placed in mosques, residential compounds and other public places this Ramadan.
“General public can donate surplus food through these fridges. They need to follow the food safety and hygiene guidelines…People passing by can take it if they need food,” he said.
Khalid Mohammad Sherif Al Awadhi, assistant director general at Dubai Municipality, said the plan is to place 100 Food Bank fridges across the country.
However, it was not clear if the fridges will be kept in those locations even after Ramadan.
Adel El Rahim Gador, principle food health inspection officer in charge of the Food Bank office in Al Quoz, said the Food Safety Department is likely to announce guidelines for residents to make sure the safety of donated food.
“People have to be very careful about the safety of the food they donate. They should be honest and should not donate spoiled food.”
Dh4b –Yearly food wastage in the UAE
196kg –Yearly food wasted by each person
30 – Food Bank branches across the country
100 – Food Bank fridges across the country from Ramadan