The UAE has recently announced the creation of a food bank which will help the needy both at home and abroad.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the current Ruler of Dubai and Vice President of the UAE, made the announcement just before the anniversary of his accession.
Year of Giving
It was announced previously that 2017 would be known as the Year of Giving in the UAE, with the aim “to instil benevolence in the hearts of our people”. This is just one of the initiatives which will seek to fulfil that goal, and will certainly not be the last that we see along these lines.
The new UAE food bank will help to reduce food waste overall in the country, and will feed those who are in need of a helping hand. Food was chosen as their first focus for the year because of the fact that everyone needs it to survive, and not everyone has easy access to it.
“We seek to engage numerous social organisations and volunteers in a system of giving, following Sheikh Zayed’s example of altruism,” Sheikh Mohammed said. “We hope the spirit of generosity spreads in and beyond the UAE through ambitious humanitarian initiatives throughout the Year of Giving.”
He shared these ideas on social media as well, hoping to encourage as many people as possible to participate in helping the food bank to grow.
Collecting Waste Food
The food bank will not be operating alone. It will work with charities as well as local authorities to collect excess food which will not be used in hotels, supermarkets, and restaurants. Those with food jobs will be able to participate by ensuring that excess food finds its way to the charity. Farms will also be getting in on the act to offer the produce which they have not been able to sell.
While much of the food may come in a raw or unpackaged format, the work of the food bank will be to prepare it for use. It will be stored carefully and packaged, ready to be distributed to those who need it.
The food bank will be operating as part of the umbrella organisation, the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives foundation. This organisation covers many different humanitarian programmes and groups and helps them to function in a useful way. The Dubai Municipality will also help by providing operational support, including volunteers who will be given health and safety training to ensure that all of the work complies with food safety guidelines.
If some of the donated food is not edible, it will instead be used as a fertiliser or chemical ingredient. It may also be donated for medicinal research so that no single piece of food is ever wasted.
Food Waste Issues
One of the big aims of this programme is to cut food waste to zero. The UAE suffers a huge loss each year – estimated at around Dh13 billion by the Dubai Media Office – thanks to food waste. If it is successful, Dubai will be the first in the region to reach zero food waste, a massive achievement for all involved.
It is not only those inside the UAE who are concerned about the levels of food waste. In fact, the World Summit on Food Security last year saw food experts calling the Dubai levels a global problem. This means that authorities and chefs need to take it seriously, which seems to be the case at last.
Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, the Minister of State for Tolerance, has called the food bank an “exceptional initiative”.