Previously we discussed how even before the pandemic, low income families were struggling to consume a sufficient diet despite spending more money on it. And when shocks like MCO 2.0 happen, with many are losing their sole source of income, this forces these households to slash their food budget to survive. Ironically, Malaysians produce about 15,000 tonnes of mostly edible food waste every day, which could have easily fed households in dire need.
Here is a glimpse of hope – Food banks, usually initiated by local NGOs, are doing all they can to overcome this by connecting food supply with people who need it most. Some local initiatives depend on cash donation which will be used to purchase essential items for donation. It could be from individual donation, fundraising and also corporate sponsorship.
For food banks like The Lost Food Project (TLFP), they also rescue ‘lost food’ and channel it to people in dire need. The option to donate food surely helps to redistribute the surplus nutritious food from ending up in landfills. According to their sources, good logistics coordination would attract more partners as the food manufacturers have shown that they are willing to give if someone could help them to connect.
What A Waste (WAW), which rescued leftovers and unsold food over one million kilogrammes of food last year, mentioned how the job got tougher during the last MCO. As they could no longer rescue excess food from events, they now rescue groceries from their partner cooks into wholesome food packs.
Delivery process will also become more complicated given the area restrictions and SOPs. Even so, with the introduction of Food Donors Protection Act 2020, it protects food donors from civil liability, and hopefully it will increase food donation and help our food banks to continue serving the needy.
We might be more informed and prepared for the second round of MCO, but there are many families out there who are still vulnerable to the shocks. If you can donate, please do. If you can volunteer, go help out your local food bank. Or else, inform your friends and family about how some families depend on food banks to get their dinner. The least we can do is to not let them suffer in silence.
Research Associate, PUTRA Centre for Social Studies