Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has dedicated his Accession Day, January 4th, to the launching of the UAE Food Bank, a non-profit charitable organisation committed to distributing food to those in need while eliminating food waste.
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, 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.
In addition to its philanthropic vision, the initiative also aims to position Dubai as the first city in the region to achieve zero food waste.
At the launch of the UAE Food Bank, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed proclaimed, "The Year of Giving provides a golden opportunity for UAE citizens and institutions to maximise their philanthropic potential by launching humanitarian initiatives. We chose "food" as our first initiative as it is one of the most basic human needs. Through the UAE Food Bank, we aim to instill the value of giving deep in the hearts of our people."
His Highnesses elaborated, "Emiratis are the most generous and giving people. Through the UAE Food Bank, we are creating a sustainable institutional framework inspired by these values, and by the legacy of UAE Founding Father, Sheikh Zayed."
"We are also inspired by the boundless generosity of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, especially during the month of Ramadan, when he provides meals to millions of underprivileged people daily. The UAE Food Bank seeks to immortalise these values in future generations by engaging community-based volunteers and organisations so that the spirit of philanthropy spreads beyond the borders of the UAE as the Year of Giving unfolds."
Launched under the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives Foundation, MBRGI, and as part of the Year of Giving, the UAE Food Bank will reach people on a local and regional level, and will promote the pillars of the Year of Giving, specifically social responsibility and volunteerism. It aims to cement these values in UAE communities, as well as achieve international standards of sustainability.
The Food Bank will promote social responsibility in the private sector by partnering with hotels and restaurants, food-manufacturing companies and supermarkets, and introducing a process of preserving, storing and packaging the food, with the goal to optimise usage and achieve zero waste. Volunteers will be invited to collect surplus food from the appointed authorities, and distribute it to those in need, in and outside the UAE.
The UAE economy will also benefit from the Food Bank, as the UAE currently incurs approximately Dh13 billion annually in food loss, which can be re-directed to benefit other social sectors.
An integrated mechanism for food preservation will be introduced to Food Bank partners and stakeholders to ensure maximum efficiency, along with food safety guidelines that abide by international standards.
The Food Bank operations will begin in Dubai and will expand to other underdeveloped communities in the region and around the world.
The Dubai Municipality will provide operational support following an internationally standardised process of food collection, packaging, storage and distribution. Volunteers will also be trained on health and safety standards, providing support on-ground at UAE Food Bank locations and cooled storage.
The UAE Food Bank will also recycle the remnants of inedible food through industries that may benefit from it, including fertilizers, chemical and medicinal research, and more. The goal is for Dubai to be the first city in the region to achieve zero food waste.