Have you been keen to volunteer for the Dubai Food Bank but haven’t been sure how to? Well, we have an update…
We’ve all been at a brunch or a Dubai buffet and felt guilty about the mounds of food likely to go to waste. Well, the Dubai government has taken action.
Last month, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai and Vice President of the UAE, launched the UAE Food Bank, which will distribute otherwise wasted food to those in need at both a local and regional level.
Since we announced the Food Bank news in early January we’ve had countless emails and Facebook messages from readers asking how they can get involved. Well, we managed to get in touch with the team behind the Food Bank and they said there will be a clear path for volunteers soon. We just need to wait as they’re in the middle of building it.
They are currently working on a “smart IT solution” that will be launched “very soon”. This will mean people can log in and find out how to get involved – it will be a way to connect suppliers, volunteers and organisers they told us. The Food Bank team is just currently testing the product fully and will update us as soon as they are ready to launch it.
So yes, it will be easy to volunteer, just watch this space.
THE HEADQUARTERS AND MORE…
Five days after it launched, 85 hospitality companies signed agreements with the Food Bank, which tallies up to more than 200 restaurants and supermarkets. Those involved already include Majid Al Futtaim Group, Carrerfour, Choithrams, Trade Centre and Jumeirah.
We now also know where its headquarters will be: there will be a storage facility built at Dubai Vegetable Market in Al Aweer. The plan is for its first campaign to distribute 30,000 meal packages to those in need.
It will quickly grow too, and in the next few years it will have 15 branches, focused on providing emergency food relief. We’re likely to have more information on how you can get involved and volunteer soon too (we’ll keep you updated).
The non-profit organisation will partner “with hotels and restaurants, food-manufacturing companies and supermarkets and introduce a process of preserving, storing and packaging the food, with the goal to optimize usage and achieve zero waste,” according to the Media Office.
“Volunteers will be invited to collect surplus food from the appointed authorities, and distribute it to those in need, in and outside the UAE,” the office explains.
So basically the Food Bank will come and get the food, store it so it stays fresh, and then distribute it.
It is estimated that the UAE currently sees Dhs13 billion in food waste a year, so harnessing that loss for good is nothing but a smart idea.
The ultimate aim of the Food Bank is to make Dubai the first city in the region to achieve zero food waste – a lofty goal, yes, but we all know the emirate likes to aim high.
“The Year of Giving provides a golden opportunity for UAE citizens and institutions to maximise their philanthropic potential by launching humanitarian initiatives. We chose ‘food’ as our first initiative as it is one of the most basic human needs,” Sheikh Mohammed explained. “Through the UAE Food Bank, we aim to instill the value of giving deep in the hearts of our people.”
“We are also inspired by the boundless generosity of UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan,” he explained, “especially during the month of Ramadan, when he provides meals to millions of underprivileged people daily. The UAE Food Bank seeks to immortalise these values in future generations by engaging community-based volunteers and organisations so that the spirit of philanthropy spreads beyond the borders of the UAE as the Year of Giving unfolds.”
Remember, last year Sheikh Mohammed pledged Dhs5 billion to help those in need – you can read all about that here.
SO HOW WILL IT WORK EXACTLY?
– An “integrated mechanism for food preservation” will be introduced to the Food Bank’s partners (like hotels etc), and it will stick to international food safety guidelines.
– The operation will start in Dubai and then it will be expanded to other underdeveloped communities around the world.
– The Dubai Municipality will provide operational support – collecting, packaging, storing and distributing the food. Volunteers will then be trained to provide support on the ground at the UAE Food Bank locations and fridges. Which, yes, reminds us of the very successful Ramadan fridge project from last year:
– The Food Bank will also recycle the remnants of inedible food however useful – i.e. for industries like fertilisers and chemical and medicinal research.
We’ll keep you updated on where the fridges and locations will be and how you can help…