Donate excess food to poor people instead of letting it go to waste


Given the rise in global concerns over food insecurity, it is important to review factors concerning food waste and why it is a global issue. Millions of people are starving; on the other hand, many countries are wasting large quantities of food. 

According to estimates by Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, an estimated 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted globally every year, accounting for one-third of all food produced by humans. The cost of food lost or wasted every year amounts to $2.6 trillion, which could feed two billion hungry people worldwide. Food waste emits carbon dioxide and methane gas into the atmosphere, which totals up to 8 per cent of all global greenhouse gas emissions, negatively affecting climate change.

About 24,000 children under the age of five die of hunger every day due to the global food crisis, and more than 87 million people are malnourished. According to a recent United Nations report, 931 million tonnes of food were wasted in shops, restaurants, and other places worldwide in 2019.

This amount of wasted food is 17 per cent of the world’s food production. About 61 per cent of food was wasted in homes, 26 per cent in hotels and the hospitality industry and 13 per cent in other sectors. In South Africa, 10 million tonnes of food go to waste every year.

Inger Anderson, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme, warned that “every country and every person in the world must ensure that not a single grain of food is wasted. If we do not understand our responsibility to prevent climate change and damage to natural resources, we will one day have to pay the price.”

According to experts, at weddings and other functions, food is cooked 20 to 25 per cent more than the estimated requirement so, much of it is deposited in rubbish bins instead of being given to those in need. Food waste also has a devastating effect on the environment. Harmful methane gas emitted from decomposing food increases global warming. Food waste contributes 8-10 per cent of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions. The world’s ever-growing population is also a significant cause of food shortages.

A study warns that if population growth is not stopped in time, it will be challenging to provide food and nutrition to the world. So, it is better to deliver leftover food to the needy; make a difference in the lives of those in our community and abroad who need the support, either by donating to your local food bank or volunteering to help support like-minded organisations.

Letter from Surjit Singh Flora, Brampton, Canada