Launched in 2011 by Bo Charity Foundation, Food Angel is a food rescue and food assistance programme with the mission of “Waste Not, Hunger Not, With Love”. The programme rescues edible surplus food from different sectors of the food industry that would otherwise be disposed of as waste, and implements community care to realise its vision, in which those in need can experience an enriched life.
Hong Kong Poverty Situation Report 2018, 44.4% of the total elderly population (about 516,000 individuals) are poor. Their poverty rate is more than double that of the overall population, largely because they are no longer able to earn an income. At the same time, over 3,565 tonnes of food is thrown away and end up in landfill every day. While the three strategic landfills are at full capacity, much of the discarded food is still edible. Despite this enormous waste of food, many of the city’s poor and disadvantaged citizens, ironically, cannot afford healthy and nutritious meals.
Food Angel operates a meal assistance service, which brings together volunteers at its kitchen to help serve hot meals, as well as deliver meal boxes and food packs. Apart from offering hot meals to satisfy the physical hunger of the beneficiaries, the ultimate goal of the charity is to provide non-material nourishment, such as love and care. As such, it also hosts regular gatherings and interest-based classes for senior citizens, via its Community Angel and Outreach Angel programmes, while its Corporate Angel programme provides diverse corporate social responsibility activities to commercial organisations and companies. In addition, its Foodstep Journey public awareness programme advocates for the virtues of cherishing food and caring for the community, teaching participants about food wastage and elderly poverty in Hong Kong, and the meaning of “No Pain, No Grain”. Further education over food waste and poverty issues is provided in the Green Angel programme, which includes activities such as introductory talks, field trips, reward schemes and food upcycling workshops, to inspire school children to cherish food and care for those in need.
Looking at the figures, Food Angel produced 40,000 nutritionally balanced meals and 10,000 food packs per week in the year 2018-19. The impact of Food Angel extends beyond feeding 30,000 people and rescuing 1,546 tonnes of food in a year. They managed to improve the overall wellbeing of their service users as their health improves due to access to more nutritious meals, strengthened social connections as they share the meal at the community centre or are visited by volunteers, and save on time and money. They have built and sustained the momentum for food rescuing among food industry and the general public. Their provision of meals allowed charity partners to focus on providing more holistic services to elderly. Over 500 senior citizens have registered and benefited from the services provided by Community Angel and Outreach Angel. Over 70 schools have participated in the Green Angel programme, where approximately 26,000 students have learned the importance of cherishing food. Food Angel also manages to craft their volunteering and educational experiences in a way that would deepen their understanding on the socio-environmental issues involved, make a connection with the beneficiaries and appeal to one’s desire to contribute.
“Hong Kong Poverty Situation Report 2018.” Census and Statistics Department. Hong Kong, 2019. https://www.censtatd.gov.hk/hkstat/sub/sp461.jsp?productCode=B9XX0005. Accessed 23 December 2020.
“Monitoring of Solid Waste in Hong Kong 2018.” Environmental Protection Department. Hong Kong, 2019. https://www.wastereduction.gov.hk/sites/default/files/msw2019.pdf. Accessed 23 December 2020.