Food waste and hunger are two issues that are paradoxically intertwined. One third of all food produced is wasted, while many individuals and families face challenges in securing enough food to meet their nutritional needs. One way to address both of these issues is through the redistribution of rescued food.
Rescued food is unsaleable, but perfectly edible food that is surplus, yet still good for consumption, and would have otherwise gone to waste. This food is rescued by organisations such as Satisfy Food Rescue, that work to divert it from landfills and redistribute it to people in need, such as food banks, community organisations and schools.
However, there is often a stigma attached to rescued food, which can discourage people from accepting it and perpetuate food insecurity in communities.
Food waste is a significant global issue that not only has economic and environmental consequences but also a significant impact on food insecurity. Millions of tonnes of food are wasted each year globally, this is despite the fact that approximately 800 million people are undernourished.
Food parcels, which contain rescued food that would otherwise go to waste, have become an important way of reducing food waste and providing food to people who are in need.
Receiving rescued food can be a lifeline for many people and has the added benefit of massively reducing the burden on our landfills and climate. By normalizing the use of rescued food, we can start to shift attitudes towards food waste and promote more sustainable practices.
When people receive food parcels, it can help to reduce the sense of isolation and shame that can come with food insecurity. As a society we need to think about how we can create a more supportive environment for people who are struggling to access food. Rather than seeing food assistance programmes as a handout, communities should view them as a way of supporting its members.
This can help to create a sense of solidarity and compassion, which can go a long way towards removing the stigma around food parcels.
With the cost of living rising, we are seeing a significant change in the demographic of people accessing food bank services. People should be made aware that food insecurity can happen to anyone and at any time and that it is not a reflection of personal failure or weakness.
Stef Van Meer, Manager at Satisfy Food Rescue says, “Nowadays we are hearing from our recipients that they are helping newly vulnerable individuals and families, often those with double incomes, people that would not have been struggling that much previously.
The cost of everything is going up, and even with double income households, people are still finding it hard to put food on the table.”
The first step towards removing this stigma is to educate people about the value of rescued food. Rescued food is not inferior to other food, and in fact, it is often just as nutritious as food purchased in stores.
Removing the stigma associated with food parcels is essential to ensure that people have access to the food they need and to promote more healthy, sustainable practices. Rather than seeing rescued food as a last resort, communities should view it as a valuable resource that can help address both hunger and food waste.
This way we can work towards building stronger and more resilient communities.