Combatting food waste: The Zero Summit Philippines and the vision of zero hunger

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Wasted food

Amid both food waste and food insecurity, initiatives like the Zero Summit Philippines are stepping up to bridge the gap. Organised by Scholars of Sustenance (SOS), a global food rescue foundation, the event held on August 8, 2023, saw a convergence of food industry magnates and sustainability proponents. They came with one mission: to strategize on reducing food wastage and eradicating hunger by 2030, encapsulated by the theme “Zero to Hero.”

Founded in 2016, SOS is a global trailblazer committed to food rescue. With its roots spread across Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines, its mission revolves around minimising food wastage and ensuring equitable food distribution. By redistributing consumable surplus food from enterprises like hotels, grocery chains, eateries, and manufacturers, SOS has become a beacon of hope for undernourished Filipino communities.

Bo Holmgreen, SOS’s vanguard, rightly voiced, “What better goal to strive for than zero? Zero food waste will make both the environment and a lot of hungry people happier.” The summit was envisaged not just as an intellectual discourse but as a springboard for actionable steps towards zero food waste.

James Leyson, the linchpin between SOS’s Philippine and Thai operations, reiterated the urgency and extent of the task, “Reducing food waste and alleviating hunger requires a multifaceted restructuring of the entire food system.” The statistics are a testament to SOS’s impact, with 148,728 kilogrammes of food rescued and converted into 625,300 meals, while also trimming down the carbon footprint by 363,825 kilogrammes.

The synergy between different sectors amplifies SOS’s endeavours. The Quezon City government, spearheaded by Mayor Ma. Josefina “Joy” Belmonte, has been pivotal, fostering 754 urban gardens, championing urban agriculture, and pioneering a healthy food procurement policy.

Allianz PNB Life, globally recognised for their anti-hunger stance, and Gokongwei Group’s brands like Robinsons Retail Holdings Inc. and Universal Robina Corporation, further bolster the cause by partnering with SOS.

The Zero Summit, having originated in Thailand in 2021, has now transcended borders, shedding light on the ecological and socio-economic ramifications of food waste. Such events not only mobilise funds for feeding vulnerable communities but sew a tapestry of responsibility and solidarity.

With a shared vision, stakeholder unity, and relentless innovation, the Zero Summit Philippines fosters hope for a horizon where zero waste and zero hunger are not just ideals but realities.

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