It’s been a progressive journey for the UAE Food Bank since 2017 when it was launched as a non-profit, comprehensive ecosystem of storing, packaging and distributing excess fresh food from hotels, restaurants and supermarkets within and outside the UAE and last week, the food bank took its first step to discharge its responsibilities outside the country. Its partnership agreement with the Food Banking Regional Network (FBRN) will help expand its services to 33 food banks in 32 countries in the region. This augurs well for the UAE’s commitment to shrink its food wastage footprint, which currently ranks the fourth highest in the world.
With the tie-up with FBRN, the UAE will now be able to provide packaged food for the needy in the region, including Syrian and Yemeni refugees, and reach out to countries like Somalia.
The collaboration with FBRN will also help the UAE provide food to people who are unable to work including the elderly, households with chronic diseases, single mothers and orphans, aspects fundamental to tackling a critical global problem — societal imbalances that occur due to the uneven distribution patterns of food resources.
This juxtaposition of plenty and paucity is at the heart of the global crisis surrounding food and it is important for every country to tackle food wastage on a war footing because this wastage has crippling consequences: It damages the global economy, deepens the chasm between the well-fed and the hungry and irreparably harms the environment.
Nearly one billion people in the world go to bed hungry every night. Obversely, every year, about $750 billion (Dh2.75 trillion) worth of food is wasted globally. The waste negates several precious assets — use of natural resources such as land, water and air, human contributions of time, labour and logistics, industrial resources used in packaging and distributing food and transportation costs over land, sea and air. Add to this the environmental fallout such as greenhouse gas emissions, pollution of land, water and air and expanding landfills to accommodate the growing mountains of food waste and you can see how it has gone so terribly wrong.
Truth is, every dirham spent on buying food that is not consumed is a dirham lost for other important needs in life.
Every dirham spent on unconsumed food that is not donated is a dirham wasted that could have gone to the needy instead.
Each one of us needs to understand this simple accounting as it not only benefits us, but also helps the environment, and crucially, assists the UAE in fulfilling its objectives to curb food wastage.