Food banks to be set up to plug daily wastage

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    FOOD banks are the best solution to address food wastage in the country, according to a government-private sector movement which disclosed yesterday that some 1,700 metric tons of food are wasted daily amid a high percentage of Filipinos experiencing food insecurity.

    The Pilipinas Kontra Gutom (PKG) Movement said 62 percent of households in the country are food insecure while 20 percent are severely food insecure.

    Cabinet Secretary, and concurrent Task Force Zero Hunger chairman, Karlo Nograles during the re-launching of the PKG, said the establishment of a food bank is one of the projects being pursued under the national food policy program of the government.

    “Hunger is a silent enemy that can no longer be ignored; many are affected and many should be helped. In our campaign against hunger, we should be all in, all out – anyone who can pitch in should help, and those who can help should go all out,” Nograles said in mixed English and Filipino.

    The government’s food policy revolves around four pillars: Availability, which aims to elevate farming as a dignified and sustainable profession; Accessibility which aims to provide nutritious and fortified food to address malnutrition; Adequacy which ensures food supply even during calamities and disasters; and Assistance that provides among other the establishment of food banks.

    Nograles that due to the continuing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, more Filipinos have been experiencing hunger.

    He cited a recent Rapid Nutrition Assessment Survey by the government which showed that 62 percent of 5,717 households surveyed have experienced moderate to severe food insecurity during the height of the COVID-19 lockdown from March to April.

    Of the said figure, 56 percent of the households said they had problem accessing food during the pandemic; 22 percent said they do not have money to buy food; 21 percent said there was no public transportation in their area to enable them to travel and buy food; 19.5 percent said they lost their job and no longer have money to buy food; 10.8 percent said there were limited stores to buy food; and 5 percent said they were elderly and have no family to buy food for them.

    A November 2020 survey done by a private polling firm showed four million families or 16 percent have experienced hunger in the last quarter of the 2020, which was down from 7.6 million or 30.7 percent in the third quarter of last year.

    To address food hunger and stop food wastage, the PKG would put up a pilot food bank in Metro Manila within the year, according to Grab Philippines public affairs head Booey Bonifacio. Grab Philippines is one of the private firms involved in the PKG.

    Bonifacio said that while Metro Manila is not one of the priority areas or provinces with high incidence of hunger and poverty in the country, “much of the (food) waste happens in Metro Manila.”

    Under the food banking system, surveys would be done to determine exactly how much of the food actually goes to waste, how much food is considered a surplus, how much would be donated or distributed, from what restaurants, supermarkets or manufacturers it would come from; and where it would be delivered or distributed, among others.

    The PKG plan includes setting up a food bank first in Metro Manila this year and replicating it in the provinces with the highest incidence of hunger and poverty, like Camarines Sur in Luzon, Negros Occidental and Oriental provinces in the Visayas, and in Bukidnon North Cotabato and Zamboanga del Norte in Mindanao.

    Food banks would also be set up in the other provinces under the 32 priority provinces, among them Apayao, Catanduanes, Masbate, Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, Sorsogon, Quezon, Cebu, Eastern Samar, Iloilo, Leyte, Northern Samar, Siquijor, Western Samar, Agusan Del Sur, Davao Del Sur, Davao Occidental, Lanao Del Norte, Sarangani, South Cotabato, Surigao Del Sur, Sultan Kudarat, Zamboanga Del Sur; Lanao Del Sur, Maguindanao, and Sulu.