x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Safe to eat leftovers served to most needy across Abu Dhabi

Leftover food that is safe to eat will be collected from restaurant kitchens and served to hundreds of needy families and labourers every day as part of a plan to cut down on waste.

ABU DHABI // Leftover food that is safe to eat will be collected from restaurant kitchens and served to hundreds of needy families and labourers every day as part of a plan to cut down on waste.

Instead of being dumped in landfills, the uneaten food from Quatro Group's five kitchens around the capital, which includes cafes and catering companies, will be delivered to homes and labour camps.

The scheme will come into effect after Ramadan this year. The move is part of the company's link up with the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) and the Saving Grace (Hefth Al Ne'ma) initiative to give away as many as 250 meals a day for the next five years.

Running since 2004, Saving Grace is managed by the UAE Red Crescent Authority. It collects uneaten food from hotels, restaurants and palaces and distributes it to families around Abu Dhabi and to labour accommodations.

"Food waste rots when it goes to landfill, causing greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change," said Dr Richard Perry, executive director for environmental information, science and outreach management at EAD. The UAE has one of the highest rates of food waste in the world, with discarded foodstuff representing 19 per cent of all rubbish reaching the country's landfills according to figures from the EAD. "We are trying to raise awareness among people that when they are celebrating they do need to be careful about waste as well, and to be thoughtful of other people," said Dr Perry.

Kinan Al Nahar, kitchen operations manager at Moka Lounge, part of Quatro Group, said as restaurants and catering companies go about their daily business there is always safe, untouched food that ends up being thrown away.

Buffets and large functions generate the most waste, said Mr Al Nahar, who would like to see more restaurants join the scheme.

"As a food operation, this initiative also makes my life easier," he said, explaining that leftover food will be collected daily by the Saving Grace team.

Sultan Al Shehi, director of Saving Grace, said the initiative has 15 refrigerated delivery vans to transport food safely. "We are changing the habits of people," said Mr Al Shehi.

Private individuals should be mindful of how much they cook and should give away leftovers locally within their community, added Mr Al Shehi.

Saving Grace is also in talks with supermarkets to obtain nearly expired goods that are routinely thrown away because of customer-service requirements, but are still safe to eat.

vtodorova@thenational.ae