MUSCAT: A one-of-a-kind food bank initiative launched by a group of leading Omani dignitaries and officials is helping channel surplus cooked food to less privileged sections of the community.
The charitable project is the brainchild of Eng Ibrahim al Hosni who has since enlisted the support of government and private sector luminaries in actively rolling out the initiative.
The food bank is an idea started by Engineer Ibrahim al Hosni years ago after drawing attention to the amounts of food wasted in the Sultanate of Oman, as well as a problem globally recently.
“It's a non-profit organisation, based in Al Athaiba (Muscat), specialising in preserving surplus food and distributing it to those who find it difficult to secure food'', said Eng Al Hosni, Founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Food Bank. “The idea started six years ago, but we got a licence just last year and were able officially set up the food bank under the honorary presidency of His Highness Fatik bin Fahr al Said.”
Speaking to the 'Observer', he said the initiative got off the ground just a week before the holy month of Ramadhan. “We have teams of 16 volunteers and five cars equipped with all the necessary equipment to operate a modern food store, which can be used to preserve the food that we are collecting from different sources. Our team is well-trained, especially in the field of food hygiene, to preserve and deliver the food in safe and hygiene conditions'', he stated.
Since the start of the holy month, more than 800 meals have been collected from various sources and distributed to those in need, according to the official. The Food Bank itself has over 7,500 people registered as beneficiaries, he noted.
Importantly, several corporate bigwigs have pledged support for the food bank. The list includes Al Kalbani Group, Habib Group, Al Rajhi Group, Dar Fatima Al Khairi and Shaikh Salem al Mashani.
Also providing advisory and professional support are leading figures from the food and business sector, including Eng Saleh al Shanfari, CEO of Oman Food Investment Holding Company (OFIC), Shaikh Mohammed al Harthy, Executive Vice-President of Oman Environmental Services Holding Company (be’ah), Khalid al Shuaibi, Adviser at the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion and Mohammed al Kindi, Deputy Governor of Muscat.
Playing an important role in the success of the initiative if the Ministry of Social Development which, through the provision of crucial guidance and the necessary approvals, has enabled the successful start of the Food Bank project, he noted.
Importantly, the Food Bank initiative will go a long way in mitigating the food waste phenomenon in the Sultanate of Oman. A study in 2016 estimated the amount of food to be worth around RO 56 million annually. According to a UN study published in 2020, around 95 kg of food is wasted by an individual on average every year
In a recent Twitter post, Eng Zakaria al Balushi, Regional Director of Operations at be’ah, noted: “The total waste in the Sultanate of Oman during the month of Ramadhan in 2018 was more than 133,000 tonnes, rising to more than 140,000 tonnes in 2019. In 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic and the associated lockdowns, food waste dipped to 133,000 tonnes during the holy month. It rose again after the lifting of restrictions to more than 154,000 tonnes during 2021.”