UAE food bank plans to slash waste, feed the hungry

National food bank to team up with supermarkets, hotels and restaurants to turn discarded food into meals for needy families

In a bid to reduce some of the $3.5bn of food discarded in the UAE each year, and instead deliver it to needy residents, the UAE is to launch a national food bank in line with a government goal of encouraging public philanthropy in 2017.

Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum on Tuesday said the nonprofit would join with hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and farms to repackage unwanted food and distribute it through volunteers and charitable partners to needy people in the UAE and elsewhere.

“The ‘Year of Giving’ is a golden opportunity for UAE citizens and institutions to maximise their philanthropic potential"The plan, which is in line with government’s recently unveiled ‘Year of Giving’ initiative, also seeks to make Dubai the first global city to eliminate food waste.

“The ‘Year of Giving’ is a golden opportunity for UAE citizens and institutions to maximise their philanthropic potential by launching humanitarian initiatives,” Sheikh Mohammed, who is also vice president of the UAE, said in a statement. “Food is one of the most basic human needs. Through the UAE food bank, we aim to instill the value of giving deep in the hearts of our people.”

The food bank will begin operations in Dubai, with the city overseeing food collection, repackaging, storage and distribution. Volunteers will also be trained on food safety standards, and the food bank will pair with local and international charities to maximise its distribution network

Where possible, inedible food will be recycled through industries, such as those producing fertiliser or chemical research.

The UAE’s pledge to slash food waste is in line with a broader global campaign to tackle hunger and improve food security.  In 2015, member states of the United Nations adopted a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals, to be achieved by 2030, one of which was to eradicate global hunger, achieve food security and promote sustainable agriculture.

About one third of all food produced in the world is wasted, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, enough to feed the 870 million people globally who go to bed hungry every night.

Click here to read about the volunteer army tackling hunger on Asia's streets.