Remember the Dubai Food Bank? Well, we have an update (and now know how you’ll be able to donate).
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.
In January, 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.
And the great news is that it’s now up and running!
The first Food Bank warehouse was opened in Al Quoz this morning (head to this Google Maps pin to see the exact location). The inaugural location includes two refrigerated containers to store dry, canned and packaged foods that have been donated by food companies, major hotel chains and hypermarkets. Another 30 locations like this will be opened across the UAE.
Also, more than 100 Food Bank fridges will be set up in mosques, residential areas and other public places by the time Ramadan falls. This is where people like us will be able to donate food.
There are 10 authorised charities that will be tasked with collecting the food from the larger organisations, and then bringing the items to the warehouses.
Last month the Food Bank team told us they were 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.
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.
Its headquarters will be 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.
The non-profit organisation partners “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’s charities 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 DOES 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.