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EURO 2016
Annual output of 400,000 tons of wasted food

KUWAIT: Despite Ramadan’s intended purpose of fostering self-discipline through abstaining from eating and drinking, there’s a paradoxical increase in food wastage, contributing to Kuwait’s annual output of 400,000 tons of wasted food, according to official records and insights from Mohammad Al-Muzaini, head of the “Nemati” initiative, a project dedicated to preserving and reducing food waste. Through extensive investigation, Kuwait Times explores the causes of this phenomenon, proposes viable solutions to overcome it, and recommends non-profit initiatives aimed at redistribution of excess food to those in need.

Reasons behind food waste

One of the primary reasons is excessive cooking, particularly for social gatherings like ghabga, a significant part of Kuwait’s Ramadan culture. This practice often leads to leftovers, compounded by the extravagant buffets provided by hotels and restaurants during Ramadan events.

Other Kuwaiti traditions, such as nuqsa, the exchange of food between neighbors and relatives, also contribute to the abundance of food already present in households, as emphasized by Muzaini. He further pointed out that Muslims shopping during fasting hours is another problem, leading to purchasing unnecessary items beyond their needs, just to sustain their cravings.

This trend not only disregards those in need, but also contributes to the spread of toxins in landfills and has a negative effect on the country’s economy, emphasized Muzaini. He said each ton of wasted food costs the country KD 7,200.

Tips for minimizing food waste

In response, the Public Authority for Food and Nutrition in Kuwait has suggested multiple tactics to help in limiting food waste in this month.

l Cooking food in appropriate quantities that meet the needs of family members.

l Making a shopping list beforehand to prevent impulsive purchases while shopping during fasting hours.

l Utilizing food leftovers by incorporating them into new recipes or recycling them in creative ways.

l Donating food leftovers to those in need rather than discarding them. Notably, ensuring food safety, validity for eating, and proper packaging for preservation.

l Refraining from overfilling plates while eating at any restaurant or hotel, especially in open buffets, to minimize food waste.

l Properly storing food leftovers in a healthy and safe manner to allow for reheating and consumption later.

l Providing food leftovers to animals and birds.

Initiatives delivering excess food to those in need

Following are a few non-profit projects and initiatives aimed at facilitating the process of donating food waste to people in need.

Etaam Kuwait

This is a project operating under the auspices of the Kuwait Food Bank, dedicated to collecting surplus food from social dining events, parties, and banquets. The project coordinator emphasized the importance of contacting them in advance of the event to arrange for food collection. This allows them to mobilize their drivers and ensure a smooth process for gathering the excess food in designated boxes, which is then distributed to individuals facing food insecurity. It is recommended that donors provide enough food to fill 20 to 30 boxes to maximize the impact of their contribution, he said.

Preservation of Grace (Hefz Alneama)

Association

This is a personal nonprofit association that is managed and operated by Faten Alloughani, who also prefers to be contacted in advance of any event. She said she collects any amount of excess food donations from individuals and distributes them to orphans, widows, elderly and those who are sick and in need. The number of the association is 99544361.

Nemati (My grace)

Nemati is a non-profit initiative that presents an excellent option for companies, hotels, restaurants and retailers seeking to donate excess products nearing expiration or leftover meals. It specifically selects near-expiration products that are still safe to consume and uses them to create a “food basket”, offering a variety of food options for a nominal fee. People can access this service through a link provided in the biography section of their Instagram account.

Fridges of Kuwait

Another method for people to donate their leftover food is through public fridges, with over 100 spread across various areas of Kuwait, conveniently placed near mosques and houses in residential areas. The initiative’s volunteers advise packing food in securely sealed containers, clearly marking the date of packing on the containers, and storing them in designated fridges. You can find the locations of these fridges by clicking on a link provided in the biography section of the initiative’s Instagram account.

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