Food to the Rescue : Providing Nutrition to Bali’s Needy

Our Bali Heroes | Written By, Sachi Kondo |

Have you ever wondered what happens to the excess food at buffet breakfasts and brunches? Most of it is dumped. That’s where Scholars of Sustenance’s Food Rescue Movement comes in, reducing food waste and providing nutrition to where it’s needed.

Indonesia is the second largest food waste contributor in the world. With 8% of all green house gasses coming from food waste, many believe it’s easier to reform these household habits than refraining from motor and air travel. But most of us are still unaware of the consequences of rotting food in the landfill — a fire that broke out in Bali’s own Suwung Landfill October 2019 could have been avoided had the level of methane gas was lower. And that’s just a small-scale example.

Helping to curb this island-wide problem is Scholars of Sustenance, whose foundations stand on two main pillars: food rescue and education.

The first course of action is to collect excess food from hotels and restaurants around the island. As Bali is blessed with such fertile ground, SOS prioritises food deliveries of this excess food, rather than composting. SOS Thailand on the other hand operates with broader functions, also due to its more mature age. Both branches continue to save the environment through food rescue, which they can calculate using an algorithm that has yet to be practised in Bali.

Their agenda on the island, however, pivots more to the human side. Feeding the needy and giving them attention; showing them that someone cares enough to drive through narrow streets in trucks scraping against the side of mountains to satiate their hunger. The people are as important as the food, they believe. They’re very careful with the word ‘leftovers’ for this simple reason. By raising nutrition, the human potential is also uplifted.

Since last year, SOS grew from what they call ‘the lazy model’ of delivering food to orphanages to expanding to village programmes and, soon, education. The Bali team feeds 14 orphanages, 5 villages, and 4 other organisations to date. They continue to build their list of recipient kitchens from the developed south to far-flung villages.

SOS has eight trucks and 50 staff members, rescuing some 250,000 meals a month. This is equal to 60 tonnes of food prevented from littering landfills and emitting 114,000 gasses that equates to 27 years of electricity consumption for one household. One SOS truck can feed over 100 malnourished families in one trip, or 500 to 700 people in total.

Another issue to highlight is Bali’s whopping tourism industry. Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) measured more than 40% of all food purchased by hotels ends up in landfills. It’s also proven that commercial entities waste more than individuals or households, due to their high-standard requirements of taste and aesthetic. This drives another one of their goals to rescue food. SOS now collects excess food from 57 hotels, a major catering company, food suppliers, and a bakery. Their supermarket counterparts have yet to join in the movement.

The village programme fundamentally runs to feed, but concomitantly educates.

Kids, both in the city and villages, flock to trucks the second they pull over. Tens of them filled with uncontrollable joy, only to turn bewildered at the sight of a foreign feast. Mashed potatoes, pasta, bread — what about the good old rice? One initiative witnessed 5-star chefs in action, demonstrating how the food they consume is prepared. In turn, families learn to appreciate good and nutritious food and understand the importance of a balanced diet.

Ultimately, SOS hopes to bridge access to food. Changing the access to nutrition from money-based to necessity-driven, and gradually achieving ‘food equity’.

“If we can help balance diets and make people think about their food consumption a little more, we’ve achieved something. That is shifting the access to food — and moving up in the food chain. This is what food equity is all about — it’s not about going to the supermarket and buying nutrition with money. When there is all this food flowing around — it needs to go somewhere,” founder Bo Burnham said.

To help, volunteer, or join the S.O.S. Food Rescue movement, you and your business are welcome to donate any excess food to feed their needy recipients!

Scholars Of Sustenance

Jalan Pararaton No.9E Dewi Sri, Kuta
+62 821 4747 7234
scholarsofsustenance.org

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