There’s No Such Thing as Waste?
Photo © Foodlink Foundation
There’s no such thing as waste. Well, at least that's what we can aspire to. As mentioned in my previous post, Hong Kong’s food waste levels are alarming, and are creating enormous pressure on our landfills. In addition, Hong Kong’s wealth gap – known as one of the greatest in Asia – is simultaneously increasing, which means that while more of us are wasting food, more are also going hungry.
Fortunately, there are now several projects working to lessen the gap. One of the first to start was Foodlink Foundation. Founded in 2001, Foodlink collects surplus food from hotels, restaurants and food retailers, repackages them with reheating instructions for safe consumption, and distributes them to the needy, including shelters and rehabilitation centres. Foodlink now collaborates with Feeding Hong Kong, a charity established in 2009, that distributes fresh, canned and packaged foods, including fresh vegetables, thanks to their refrigerated trucks and storage facilities. Feeding Hong Kong also distributes to community-based partner beneficiaries for further distribution.
Food Angel takes it a step further, cooking collected food in their own professional kitchens to put together hot meals, which are distributed to charities and consumed within 2 hours. Since its launch in 2011, Food Angel has provided over 100,000 meals from what would otherwise have gone to a landfill.
Photo © Eric Rechsteiner
Further afield, Table for Two ensures that you can help relieve hunger in poverty-stricken communities around the globe, without leaving your city. The model is simple – enjoy a healthy, Table for Two-endorsed meal in Hong Kong, you’ll pay an extra HK$2, and that will go to a school lunch in Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia, or China.
Zooming back into Hong Kong, smaller scale, localised projects have also cropped up over the years. In 2009, the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions set up Green Hong Kong, a group to lead the Food Grace food recycling scheme. Green Hong Kong goes to Fu Shin market in Tai Po two times a week, collecting leftover fruits and vegetables from vendors. With this food, they prepare low-cost vegetarian meals for the Confederation’s training centre canteen. Green Hong Kong regularly organises “leftover food banquets” to help spread the word about food wastage, as well as to raise funds for the continuation of the project.
On Cheung Chau, with a grant from the Environmental Protection Bureau, the Cheung Chau Island Women’s Association was able to buy a composting machine. They started collecting food waste from the community last year. The compost is then given to local residents and schools, as well as used on their own small farm, as fertiliser for homegrown vegetables that, in turn, go back to the community.
From five star hotels to island communities, these charities and projects tell us that there is plenty to do in Hong Kong. They all need support, from volunteering to fundraising, or perhaps they’ll inspire you to rectify food distribution in your own community.