Food waste and hunger

PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero-Ballescas (The Freeman) - August 24, 2019 - 12:00am

Participative governance in action is beautiful to witness and to be part of. Perhaps, a number of those in government practice public consultation especially during council sessions but how many of them, like Cebu Councilor Alvin Dizon, invite the public at the early stage of drafting any ordinance before it is sent to the City Council for deliberation?

Last August 22, in order to solicit valuable inputs from various stakeholders to ensure that his proposed measure is “more relevant and responsive to the sector it intends to serve,” Councilor Alvin invited supermarket, grocery, and school canteen operators, City Health, Cenro, Food and Drug Administration, Culinary Schools, and NGO representatives. Former councilor and Cenro head Nida Cabrera also joined the consultation on Councilor Dizon’s proposed ordinance entitled “An Ordinance Reducing Food Waste Through Food Donation and Recycling in the City of Cebu.”

Alvin and Mrs. Teresa Carabuena Dizon, his very efficient, highly qualified partner, led the discussion about this proposed ordinance, the highlights of which are as follows:

Why this ordinance? The main reason: There are just too many hungry people in the world in the midst of food waste!

The proposed ordinance notes-“according to the Food Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) latest estimates, 1.3 billion tons of food is lost or wasted in the world every year, representing a third of total food production; and what is much more absolutely unacceptable is the fact that over one (1) billion people in the world suffer from hunger, 148 million are malnourished, and 36 million die each year from deficiencies or diseases caused by lack of food.”

Also, “food is wasted at all parts of the supply chain: at the agricultural level, while it is being handled and stored, while it is being processed, when it arrives at a grocery store, and, after it is purchased by consumers.”

Not only is food waste unethical in a world of rising hunger, according to climate activists, it is also environmentally destructive since, as FAO explained, “food loss harms the environment since producing food that will not be consumed leads to unnecessary carbon dioxide emissions. If food waste was a country, it would be the world’s 3rd largest emitter of CO2!”

Increasing millions of poor Filipinos are experiencing hunger too. Councilor Dizon’s proposed ordinance notes that “the latest Social Weather Survey cited that the number of Filipino families that considered themselves poor and food-poor rose in June 2019 to 35 percent or an estimated 8.5 million families, 8 points above the record low 27 percent or 6.8 million families recorded in March 2019.”

Councilor Dizon believes that “the massive amount of food waste produced vis-à-vis our serious problem on hunger presents an opportunity for the government to take concrete actions to address hunger and adopt a policy and legal framework especially at the local level to promote, facilitate and ensure the reduction of food waste through a mandatory system of redistribution of edible foods surplus to charities and recycling.”

Addressing food waste through programs, policies, and initiatives is also aligned to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations in 2015 for the year 2030 specifically SDG#2 on Zero Hunger, SDG#3 on Good Health and Well-Being, SDG#12 on Responsible Consumption and Production, and, SDG#13 on Climate Action.”

Councilor Alvin believes that through multi-sectoral partnership, effectively managing food waste, which has “moral, social and ecological dimensions” can allow our poor and hungry to have access to “sufficient, safe and nutritious food in a dignified manner.”

Yes to managing food waste to feed and fill hungry people rather than landfills!

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