Ne’ma, the National Food Loss and Waste Initiative, in collaboration with UAE Food Bank, has distributed more than a million meals to the underprivileged within the country.

The initiative, which is aimed at recycling inedible food and managing food surplus to reduce waste, is in line with Ne’ma’s ‘Food Rescue’ programme held during Ramadan.

Ne’ma was established following a call to action from His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, to address the negative trends of wasting food and its detrimental effects. UAE Food Bank was launched under the umbrella of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives. Last year, Ne’ma and the UAE Food Bank joined forces to achieve the country’s food waste reduction goals, and hit the target of saving a million meals of surplus food.

This holy month, the joint initiative successfully diverted more than 908,100kgs of food from landfills, resulting in more than 1.35 million surplus meals being saved and provided to those in need.

“These collaborative efforts we have witnessed during the holy month of Ramadan stand as a testament to the genuine embodiment of Ne’ma’s vision in engaging major stakeholders nationwide,toward reducing food loss and waste,” Ahmed Taleb Al Shamsi, CEO, Emirates Foundation, and Ne’ma National Steering Committee Deputy, said.

The initiative was successful through coordination and cooperation with several partners in the public and private sectors, including food companies, charities, hotels, Iftar tents, and delivery operators.

“We are glad to have brought together various governmental entities and privately operating stakeholders, along with hospitality and catering sectors to make food waste reduction a consistent and inclusive national effort to achieve the ultimate elimination of food waste, self-reliance, and sustainable circular economy,” Al Shamsi said.

The UAE government aims to half food loss and waste by 2030 – a goal that aligns with the national food security strategy and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 12.3.

“We are delighted by our continuous cooperation with the UAE Food Bank, which is the key driver to realise these objectives as per the agreed plan, and to make a positive impact towards rescuing food and recycling food waste,” Al Shamsi added.

The system of collaboration with public and private sectors identified contributing entities and surplus food, and set the sites and times for transporting food and meals, in order to save food and deliver it in the best quality to those in need. Stakeholders in the hospitality and hotel sectors were also provided with comprehensive technical solutions, training and awareness on effective ways to recycle food waste, segregation and recycling requirements.

“We are proud of what has been achieved by recycling and diverting about than 908,145kg of food from landfill, resulting in more than 1.35 million meals being saved and provided to those in need in the country,” Manal bin Yaarou, Head of Operating and Managing Emirates Food Bank Committee, said.

“In addition to segregating and recycling around 367,409kgs of food unfit for human consumption in the event of damage from the source, [the food was converted] into the equivalent of 73,482kgs of oils and organic fertiliser, with the aim of preserving the environment, as local farms in the country benefit from it,” bin Yaarou added.

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