Unwanted treasures, giving leftover food a second chance

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Suzanne Mooney, founder of The Lost Food Project.

KUALA LUMPUR: One man’s waste is another man’s treasure.

The words ring true as many local shelter homes and deserving communities are able to benefit from The Lost Food Project (TLFP) initiative – where they receive weekly supplies of edible surplus.

TLFP is an NGO established by PINK (Parents International Welfare Association of Kuala Lumpur) with a goal to create an awareness and tackle the food wastage issue in Malaysia.

 

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More than 70 children are currently housed at the Lighthouse Children’s Welfare Home Association.

TLFP which was established over a year ago collects tons of unwanted raw materials from local supermarkets and gives them a second chance to be another person’s meal.

Today, more than 70 children under the care of the Lighthouse Children’s Welfare Home Association benefit from TLFP’s efforts.

 

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Steven Silvaraju, shelter manager of the Lighthouse Children’s Welfare Home Association.

Lighthouse shelter manager, Steven Silvaraju, expressed his utmost gratitude to TLFP and its founder, Suzanne Mooney, as the project has helped the organisation during its tough times.

“It is a great initiative and has actually eased our burden,” Silvaraju told FMT.

“Since we are not governed by any authority, we are depending very much on volunteers and at times, we have to use our own money to survive.”

Silvaraju, 57, who used to be a teacher at an international school, admitted that the shelter home had gone through a rough start when it was first established 12 years ago.

“Initially we had difficulties to make ends meet and literally had to go out and ask for help from the public,” he added.

Silvaraju said that the shelter home has been lucky enough to be relieved of its financial burden through the initiative and has since reduced the cost meant for groceries.

“This has reduced our burden and we can finally focus on using the cash meant for groceries to pay other bills,” he said.

 

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The Latina Ladies’ Association, one of The Lost Food Project volunteers, packing up edible surplus donated by the Jason’s Supermarket in Bangsar.

Mooney, who spearheaded TLFP, said Lighthouse was the first organisation which they helped as soon as the project was initiated.

“Lighthouse was our first shelter that we helped when we began our operation in February last year.

“We make sure that the organisations who receive our food, will continuously receive them in the future,” Mooney said, adding that consistency in giving assistance to shelter homes is important.

“You don’t just give food and not come back again after that. There has to be consistency and we try not to give false promises,” she added.

According to Mooney, TLFP is among other projects initiated to reduce food wastage and has gradually reduced the amount of edible food being wasted in Malaysia.

She added that since they started the project, TLFP has been able to salvage several tonnes of food per week and contributed it to 20 organisations, including the Lighthouse shelter home.

 

Children at the Lighthouse shelter helping workers cook food provided by The Lost Food Project.
Children at the Lighthouse shelter helping workers cook food provided by The Lost Food Project.

Three-course meal

Malaysians waste over 15,000 tonnes of food daily according to research conducted by the Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Corporation (SWCorp Malaysia).

According to the research report, such food if salvaged, would be able to feed a complete three-course meal to approximately two million people, every day.

The research also indicates that there is a significant increase of food wastage of up to 20% during festive seasons – such as during the current holy month of Ramadan.

Based on the alarming amount of food being wasted in the country, the Malaysian Agriculture Research and Development Institute (Mardi) also introduced a similar initiative in March last year, called Malaysia Save Food (MYSaveFood) to curb food wastage.

Mardi, which is also working closely with TLFP, launched their annual campaign this year, called [email protected] on May 31. The campaign is specifically meant to collect leftovers from Ramadan bazaars.

Deputy director of Mardi’s International Network Programme, Dr Ainu Husna MS Suhaimi says that during festive months, such as Ramadan, more food is wasted daily as the number of food stalls grow yearly.

 

Dr Ainu Husna MS Suhaimi, deputy director of Mardi International Network Programme.
Dr Ainu Husna MS Suhaimi, deputy director of Mardi’s International Network Programme.

“During the festive month, the amount of food wastage is at a critical point because as we know, Malaysians love to eat and socialise.

“Malaysians are also known to be very generous,” Ainu Husna said, referring to the Malaysian habit of sharing food with their friends and neighbours.

Speaking to FMT after the launch of 2017 [email protected] on May 31, Ainu Husna, who spearheaded the campaign, said this year, the saved food will be given to poor families and those in need.

“We have identified families and several other people who will receive the food. We also plan to give it to school guards who are underprivileged,” she said.

She added that the food collected from bazaars will be distributed on the same day to avoid it becoming spoiled.

The campaign features several NGOs with volunteers to collect leftovers from bazaars at different locations. The targeted bazaars are located at Putrajaya Precint 2, Kampong Baru and Shah Alam.

The NGOs involved are Pertubuhan Pemuda GEMA Malaysia (Gema), Food Aid Foundation and the SWCorp Malaysia.