Tuesday, August 6, 2013


In many Western countries there are flourishing Food Banks which feed thousands of people, most of them poor to buy good and nutritious foods they need because of economic compulsions. The concept of such banks is that through appropriate action tons of foods, which otherwise are wasted because of surplus preparation or date expired market products, can still be salvaged if timely action is taken to protect their quality. Such saved foods are handled with care to preserve their quality scientifically and supplied to institutions and organizations looking after poor people. Of course this concept has spread across the world but in a limited way in many countries out side the wealthy group of nations. It is in this context that one has to appreciate the on-going food saving campaign in Gulf countries that provides good meals to thousands of people who have limited access because of income limitations. Here is a take on this interesting development in Dubai, one of the rich Gulf countries which is laudatory indeed. 

"Thousands of needy residents are feasting on quality leftover food from posh hotels, supermarkets and homes, thanks to a joint initiative by a Dubai-based charity and Dubai Municipality. NGO Ro'yati Family Society in Dubai, which has taken upon itself to collect and distribute leftover food under the Dubai Municipality's supervision, said in 2012 it fed over 70,000 needy residents with leftover food collected from less than a dozen sources. From succulent kebabs, uzis and biryanis (Arabic meat and rice dishes) to mouth-watering kunafas (cheese pastry) and umm ali (bread pudding), workers and families get to party on a sumptuous spread of ready-to-eat foods that is otherwise often beyond their reach. "This year we expect the numbers to double as we are already close to the 70,000 mark," said Lina Kilani, project manager at Ro'yati Family Society. She said the society distributes leftovers among 500 needy families, besides workers in labour camps. "These families, which have around eight to 10 members each, have become so used to our supplies that they call to enquire if they don't see us for a couple of weekends." Kilani said she works on a well-organised schedule as some hotels inform her of their events and potential supplies in advance. "Supermarkets and residents who have parties at homes also call us. We have a dedicated team of five paid staff who with the help of volunteers collect, transport and distribute the leftovers. "She said weekends are peak time as most parties, events and functions are held on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Ramadan iftars also generate large quantities of leftovers".

Dubai, being a business hub generates huge quantity of food wastes because of hospitality events and large scale feasts during some seasons and the prime movers of this movement must be lauded for their vision and initiative for setting up a viable food handling system that is involved in collecting surplus foods at their source, handle them with high degree of caution to prevent deterioration and deliver to needy beneficiaries with least time lapse. The civic body in Dubai must be complimented for its deep involvement and interest in the project which has made the program an unqualified success. Such initiatives must be shown by civic bodies all over the world including in India and there are may committed humanitarians with necessary resources, skill and experience willing to join the cause provided they have the unqualified support from their civic bodies. Such projects accomplish the twin objectives of saving precious food and feeding people, who otherwise are deprived of required food due to limited personal income.


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