Flipping food in pan
The latest campaign came in line with the UAE's target to halve food loss and waste by 2030. Image used for illustrative purpose only. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Abu Dhabi: The National Food Loss and Waste Initiative, ‘ne’ma’, distributed 1 million meals to the underprivileged during Ramadan, in collaboration with UAE Food Bank.

The achievement was made possible through the joint efforts of various partners in the public and private sectors in the UAE, showcasing the values of philanthropy and social responsibility during the holy month. The initiative aimed to reduce food waste and manage surplus food by recycling inedible food in line with ne’ma’s objectives and its ‘Food Rescue’ programme during Ramadan.

In February, ne’ma had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the UAE Food Bank to launch joint initiatives to achieve the country’s food waste reduction goals by collaborating with all stakeholders in the Food Rescue Working Group. The initiative aims to make a significant impact in reducing food loss and waste and achieving a sustainable circular economy.

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Surplus food

Later on, both parties signed a Sponsorship Agreement whereby ne’ma supported the UAE Food Bank’s initiative to ‘rescue’ 1 million meals of surplus food, in line with their similar food waste reduction activations during Ramadan.

The agreement reflected both parties’ commitment to the national Food Rescue programme launched by ne’ma, which necessitates nationwide involvement, reiterating both parties’ pledge to honour the directives of the UAE’s government and overall strategy in halving food loss and waste by 2030.

Ahmed Taleb Al Shamsi

Ahmed Taleb Al Shamsi, CEO of the Emirates Foundation, and ne’ma National Steering Committee Deputy, said: “We are proud to sponsor this key initiative of ‘One Million Surplus Meals’ during Ramadan as a national partnership and an enabler of the national goal of halving food loss and waste by 2030. These collaborative efforts we have witnessed during the holy month, stand as a testament to the genuine embodiment of ne’ma’s vision, in engaging major stakeholders nationwide, toward reducing food loss and waste.

He added: “We are glad to have brought together various governmental entities and privately operating stakeholders, along with hospitality and catering sectors to make food waste reduction a consistent and inclusive national effort to achieve the ultimate elimination of food waste, self-reliance, and sustainable circular economy.

“We are also delighted by our continuous cooperation with the UAE Food Bank, which is the key driver to realise these objectives as per the agreed plan and to make a positive impact towards rescuing food and recycling food waste.”

Recycling food waste

Manal bin Yaarou, Head of Operating and Managing UAE Food Bank Committee, said: “It was a pleasure to work together this year with ne’ma - the National Food Loss and Waste initiative, to achieve our joint objective in reducing food waste, as we put our extensive experience to use with the other partners within the over-arching national goal that ne’ma seeks to achieve. We are proud of what has been achieved by recycling and diverting more than 908,145kg of food from landfill during the holy month, resulting in more than 1 million surplus meals being saved and provided to those in need in the country.

She added: “In addition to segregating and recycling around 367,409kg of food unfit for human consumption in the event of [spoilage] from the source, it led to converting it into the equivalent of 73,482kg of oils and organic fertiliser, with the aim of preserving the environment and sustainability, as local farms in the country benefit from it.

Through this initiative, we managed to prevent more than 2,306,687kg of carbon emissions equivalent to planting 96,112 trees, contributing to combating the ever-discerning climate change.”

“We were also glad to work with other stakeholders in the hospitality and hotel sectors as we provided them with comprehensive technical solutions, training and awareness on effective ways to recycle food waste, segregation and recycling requirements, and how to prepare daily reporting on the environmental footprint and community economy using an application run by Reloop.”