The necessity of not wasting food when others are going hungry

The necessity of not wasting food when others are going hungry
Media members help prepare lunch for the day’s food feeding beneficiaries. —PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE ANG-BUBAN

In 2019, the 74th United Nations General Assembly designated Sept. 29 as the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste in order to promote “global efforts towards resolving it.”

I came to know this because I looked it up, my curiosity having been piqued by certain groups that are pooling their efforts in preventing food wastage and, consequently, helping ease hunger in the country.

Hunger is a critical issue that should merit everyone’s attention. Last May 29, joined others in coming to an understanding of how Allianz PNB Life, Scholars of Sustenance, and Loaves x Fish Foundation are working together to fight hunger, stop food waste, and save the environment. 

‘Rescuing’ surplus food

Our first stop was the Loaves x Fish base in Filinvest Corporate City in Alabang, Muntinlupa City. This is where Scholars of Sustenance bring “rescued” surplus food that will be cooked and prepared for delivery to designated communities. 

Arthur Bitagcol, director of operations of Scholars of Sustenance, described it as “a nonprofit environmental organization that ‘rescues’ good-quality surplus food like those from hotels—for example, from buffets.” 

“We also rescue products for donation from retailers and manufacturers,” he said, adding that these foods and products are then given to beneficiaries, like Loaves x Fish, on a daily basis.

Scholars of Sustenance began operations in Thailand in 2016, in Indonesia in the same year, and in the Philippines in 2022. Its founder is Bo Holmgren, a Danish entrepreneur-philanthropist whose efforts in reducing the world’s food waste are acknowledged as a big help in fighting hunger and in preserving the environment. 

When Scholars of Sustenance started its food surplus rescue in the Philippines, the No. 1 global insurer Allianz PNB Life was among its early partners. Bitagcol said Allianz’s assistance never wavered, enabling Scholars of Sustenance’s operations to continue on a daily basis. 

not wasting food
Using the Allianz-sponsored food truck named “KaGat”, Scholars of Sustenance was able to distribute 1.2 million meals to more than 60 community partners.

“In fact, Scholars of Sustenance’s food truck, sponsored by Allianz and named ‘KaGat’ (‘bite’ in Filipino), has already delivered 1.2 million meals,” Bitagcol said. “Per my computation, it equates to 250 trucks worth of food that have been given to those in need.” 

That’s a lot of food that reached many people and did not end up in landfills. 

Biblical miracle

Loaves x Fish is a new organization inaugurated last April 7 although its operations started two months earlier. Its founder, former Philippine ambassador to Singapore Joseph Yap, drew inspiration from 2017 Ramon Magsaysay awardee Tony Tay, whose Willing Hearts foundation has been producing meals for the homeless in Singapore. 

Yap thought of replicating Tay’s program in the Philippines. When he returned to home base after his term as ambassador ended, he conceptualized Loaves x Fish, from the miracle in the Bible in which Jesus fed 5,000 people from five loaves and two fish. 

“We are thankful to Scholars of Sustenance because we are able to multiply food that we serve to different communities,” said JC Perez, Loaves x Fish program manager for social services. 

Loaves x Fish has partnered with some 25 parishes and communities that have regular feeding programs. It provides the kitchen and personnel, and the food to be cooked is provided by Scholars of Sustenance. 

Said Perez: “Every day we start cooking around 6 or 7 a.m., and meals should be picked up for dispatch around 9 or 10 a.m. Since February we have been producing meals and helping around 25 communities in Metro Manila.” Just recently, they have included a diocese in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija. “The farthest we served before was in Caloocan,” he said. 

Perez stressed Loaves x Fish’s two-fold mission: to help alleviate hunger and, at the same time, with the support of Scholars of Sustenance, to help preserve the environment. “Here in Filinvest Corporate City, there’s a farm to which we [deposit] all the food scraps or waste, like fruit or vegetable peels, which they use as fertilizer. In turn, some of what they produce are donated to us,” he said.

Volunteer work is the secret to the sustainability of Loaves x Fish. Aside from the organization’s trusted cook, every weekend employees of Filinvest and other companies within the corporate city show up for food preparation. 


Mac Florendo, food rescue supervisor of Scholars of Sustenance, said that because it cannot prevent food wastage by itself, it has partnered with companies, corporations, other NGOs, and even schools where it educates students on the issues concerning food. 

Like Allianz, an insurance company. Chris Cabognason, chief distribution officer of Allianz in the Philippines, said: “You might ask what we are doing in this kind of outreach and charitable work. Our mission in Allianz is to provide a better future, secure the future of our customers. This is us taking it a little bit further. When we talk about ‘future’ we cannot have a future where there are people who are hungry. So, this is really our part and commitment to help end hunger in the Philippines.”

Cabognason said that because of Allianz’s work here, it is able to build alliances with Scholars of Sustenance and Loaves x Fish and do something that mirrors God’s work. “It’s also one way of supporting the United Nations’ Sustainable Goals, one of which is to end hunger,” he said. “What better way to actually help do this than by having our food truck, which is beautifully named KaGat. It’s a food truck that aims to take a bite out of hunger and replace it with hope.”

Cabognason reminded the reporters in the assembly that, despite the efforts of people and organizations, much food is still being wasted—a reality that afflicts hungry Filipinos and a planet battered by environmental degradation.

I did community work in college. Decades later, washing, peeling and slicing vegetables and fruits, toting tubs of cooking ingredients and doing other kitchen chores, felt different knowing that I’m doing it for people I don’t know but who are in need.

Community residents receive food packs at the Our Lady of the Poor Parish in Western Bicutan, Taguig City during the feeding activity last May 29.

When we arrived at Our Lady of the Poor Parish in Western Bicutan, Taguig City, the children and some of their mothers were already waiting for the distribution of the packed lunches. I was tasked to give out disposable wooden spoons, and I made doubly sure that everyone got one.  

I remembered what my mother used to say when I dawdled over my plate and even refused to eat what had been served me: Eat your food and be thankful. There are many people in the world who have nothing to eat.

 It rang true before and still rings true today.

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