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From Surplus To Sustenance

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Bahrain Food Bank’s mission to erase hunger

By Raji Unnikrishnan

A remarkable initiative that has been making a significant impact in Bahrain—one that revolves around the idea of collecting surplus food and distributing it to those in need—is the Bahrain Food Bank.

Also known as Conserving Bounties Society, a licensed non-profit, voluntary association led by its chairman Abdullatif bin Abdulla Alrajhei and vice chairman Shaikh Zeyad bin Faisal Al Khalifa, it focuses on its mission to collect and package surplus food from hotels, restaurants, consumer markets, and various special events in accordance with the health standards adopted in Bahrain and distribute it to families, expatriate workers, and individuals in need throughout the kingdom. Through its initiative, the society has made significant strides in reducing food waste and minimising the amount of food sent to the municipality’s landfill, said the Bahraini man who leads the committed team, the Bahrain Food Bank chief executive Ahmed Isa Al Kuwaiti.

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“The primary goal of the Bahrain Food Bank is to reduce food waste and alleviate hunger in the local community,” Mr Al Kuwaiti told Bahrain This Week in an exclusive interview.
“Its mission involves collecting surplus food from various sources and distributing it to those in need, thereby addressing food insecurity and promoting food sustainability.”

Mr Al Kuwaiti brings a wealth of experience and a passion for helping others to his role. Prior to joining Bahrain Food Bank in 2019, he served in the IT department of Gulf Air, where he also held the position of President of its National Labour Union. It was his involvement in the Labour Union that ignited his desire to make a positive impact through charitable work. This drive ultimately led him to assume the role of chief executive at the Bahrain Food Bank.

With the advent of the holy month of Ramadan, the Food Bank has embarked on its mission with renewed vigour, reminding us of the importance of sharing and compassion, as noted Mr Al Kuwaiti. Ramadan being a significant time for charitable giving and community support, the entity is all set with its dedicated initiatives that stand true to its commitment.
“During Ramadan, the Bahrain Food Bank typically organises special initiatives such as Ramadan food baskets, iftar meal distributions, and campaigns to encourage individuals and businesses to donate food and funds to support those in need during the holy month,” he said.
“We also collaborate with mosques, community centres, and other organisations to ensure widespread assistance to the less fortunate in Bahrain.”

With his visionary leadership and passion for philanthropy, Mr Al Kuwaiti continues to guide the organisation towards achieving its mission of combating hunger and food waste in Bahrain. Under his leadership, the organisation collaborates widely with local businesses, entities, and volunteers to maximize its impact and reach in the community.

“We partner with local entities to donate surplus food, financial support, or logistical assistance,” he explained.
“We also work closely with organisations such as charities, schools, and community centres to identify and reach vulnerable populations. Volunteers play a crucial role in various aspects of the food bank’s operations, including food collection, sorting, distribution, and raising awareness about food waste and hunger in the community. Through these collaborations, the food bank maximises its impact and reach in addressing food insecurity in Bahrain.”

Some of the current missions or initiatives that the Bahrain Food Bank is actively involved in to combat hunger and food waste in Bahrain include food collection drives, collaboration with local entities, and engaging in awareness initiatives.

“We collect food from individuals, businesses, and restaurants, and we sort and repackage surplus food for distribution to those in need,” said Mr Al Kuwaiti.
“We also collaborate with local charities and organisations to reach vulnerable populations and raise awareness about food waste and hunger through educational programs and campaigns.”

Looking ahead, the Bahrain Food Bank’s long-term goals and strategies for furthering its mission of fighting hunger and promoting food sustainability in Bahrain include sustainable practices, educational programmes and technological advancements.

“The Bahrain Food Bank’s long-term goals may include expanding its network of food donors and recipients,” said Mr Al Kuwaiti.
“We are also focusing on implementing sustainable food management practices and establishing partnerships with governmental agencies to develop policies supporting food security. Besides, we also aim at investing in educational programmes to empower individuals and communities to address food waste and hunger effectively. Additionally, the food bank may focus on enhancing its infrastructure and technology to streamline operations and increase efficiency in food collection, distribution, and tracking. Overall, the organisation aims to create a more food-secure and sustainable future for Bahrain by addressing the root causes of hunger and food waste,” said the father of two, who resides in Muharraq.

The Bahrain Food Bank is not only reducing food waste but also ensuring that no one goes to bed hungry in Bahrain. A shining example of how collective efforts can bring about positive change and make a significant impact on the lives of the less fortunate, the charity organisation has 13 staff members, nine board members, and more than 200 registered volunteers.

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