Page last updated at 02:37 Asia/Manila, Sunday, 13 November 2016 PH
To the donor companies, such as food manufacturers, farm enterprises, restaurants and food retailing outlets, the benefits of food banking are as follows:
1. Reduction in disposal cost and environmental benefits: By donating rather than dumping their surplus food, companies can reduce their disposal costs. Second Harvest Japan estimated that the average cost is about 100 Japanese yens per kilogram. In 2012, companies who donated their surplus food saved approximately 300 million yens. The additional benefit of donating is that companies can help protect the environment and meet environmental quotas by cutting out the CO2 emissions that would have resulted from their disposing of their food wastes.
2. Raising employee morale: No one likes to see food being destroyed, least of all those who took part in manufacturing it. By donating rather than destroying surplus food, companies can boost the morale of their employees by assuring them that some needy persons are benefitting from their hard work.
3. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): Donating surplus food is one form of CSR. It serves the common good of society. It confers tangible economic benefits to the community without involving a direct financial donation. Since 2002, Second Harvest Japan has donated food worth 4.7 billion yens to the community.
4. Free marketing: Welfare agencies are bulk purchasers of food products. Delivering donations to them is a means of distributing free samples. When the beneficiaries become familiar with the products donated, there would most likely be purchases in the future. At the very least, the recipient agency develops a favorable image of the donating company.
Finally, local government units who participate in food banking will obtain the following benefits:
1. Local government units have targets for organic waste reduction in their respective communities. Donating is one means to reach the goal. By working with their local food bank, local governments can reduce food waste and its negative impact on the environment.
2. According to the 2010 Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare of Japan, the relative poverty rate in Japan is 16%. This was the highest recorded poverty rate since surveys were started in 1986. Fifty-five percent of single-mother households and 51% of single elderly women live below the poverty line. By ensuring that citizens have adequate access to food, local governments can improve the lives and health of their citizens. Using donated food to support welfare recipients and aid those in need can help supplement welfare budgets and enrich the nation as a whole.
3. Increased citizen participation and regional revitalization. In addition to those in need, it is important for local communities to support the elderly. By encouraging citizens to volunteer, and by making use of food banks to support both the elderly and those in need, local governments can work with NGOs, faith-based groups and welfare agencies to create “food safety net” for their community. This is especially a great service in the coming years when the greatest threat to both developed and developing economies will no longer be the lack of energy but shortages of food and water. If Second Harvest Japan has found many opportunities to help the needy in super-rich Japan, one can imagine what can be accomplished in the Philippines that has the highest rate of poverty in East Asia, despite its being very rich in agricultural resources. It must be pointed out that the largest sector in Philippine manufacturing is the food and beverage industry. It is not surprising then that many of the leading conglomerates, as well as small and medium-scale enterprises, are food manufacturers or retailers, e.g. San Miguel Corporation, Universal Robina, Monde Nissin, Jollibee, MacDonalds, Nestle, Alaska Milk Corporation, Century Canning, Liwayway Manufacturing, Del Monte, Southeast Asian Food, NutriAsia, etc. It would be relatively easy to convince these corporations involved in food manufacturing and retailing to get involved in food banking in the Philippines.
One action program that the participants in the FGD agreed upon was to start operations in Metro Manila which has a population now of more than 10 million. Even if the poverty incidence in the National Capital Region is only 4%, much below the national average of 25%, the absolute number of the very poor is still 400,000 individuals. Three or four foundations in which some of the participants are involved can divide Metro Manila and implement small initiatives in certain geographical districts, e.g. Quezon City, Manila, Makati and Paranaque. For example, the Madrigal Foundation that is already active in Payatas among the relocated informal settlers can lead the initiative in Quezon City. Whatever template this Foundation can develop in Quezon City can be replicated by other foundations in the other specified districts. Second Harvest Japan can be asked to help in transferring their technology to these initial steps which can be eventually expanded at the right time with the help of the big corporations. As I emphasized in the FGD, it is always wise to start small and learn from our experiences. Transferring technology from one country to another is always tricky. Those who are interested in participating as partner agencies, donor companies or Local Government Units may get in touch with Mr. Gregorio Mabbagu at email@example.com or Maria Socorro Bautista at firstname.lastname@example.org or Mr. Charles E. McJilton at email@example.com. For comments, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.