The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations has lauded the UAE's decision to institutionalise the efforts to fight hunger and food waste by launching the UAE Food Bank initiative.
Nabil Gangi, FAO representative to the UAE and co-ordinator ad interim to the sub regional office for GCC States and Yemen, said that the initiative "reflects the true spirit of giving, which has always characterised the UAE communities".
The UAE Food Bank, a non-profit charitable organisation committed to distributing food to those in need while eliminating food waste, said earlier this week that it plans to distribute 30,000 meals locally.
The initiative, launched by Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum earlier this month as part of the UAE's Year of Giving campaign, plans to set up 15 branches in the UAE and internationally within three years.
"Launching the UAE Food bank as the first initiative during the Year of Giving confirms the political will to institutionally fight hunger and food waste, which will definitely lead the regional efforts in managing food loss and food waste," Gangi added.
Gangi praised the initiative of Sheikh Mohammed to turn Dubai into the first city in the region, and probably in the world, to achieve zero food waste.
He also confirmed the FAO’s readiness to continue working hand-in-hand with the UAE government and stakeholders to ensure the success of the initiative.
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Food loss and waste in MENA is estimated to be up to 250kg per person and over $60 billion annually and reduction in food losses and waste is vital for sustainable food systems and regional food security.
The UAE Food Bank will collaborate with local authorities as well as local and international charities to introduce a comprehensive ecosystem improving the efficiency of food storage, packaging and distribution.
It will partner with food producers such as hotels, restaurants and supermarkets and farms to store and package excess fresh food effectively.
It will then work with volunteers and partners to distribute the well-packaged food within and outside of the UAE.