MAKKAH: The Neamaa Mostadama project was inaugurated in Makkah on Wednesday as part of the Hefz Al-Neamaa initiative, and Abdullah Felali, the chairman of its board of directors, told Arab News about the importance of establishing an organization to help preserve food while reducing waste.
He said it was also important to find a mechanism to collect clothes to provide for the needy, and create a volunteer team to help with its distribution.
He said: “We are heading towards creating a clothing center similar to (the) markets so that beneficiaries can visit these centers at the association’s headquarters and take what they need.
“They will be able to obtain what they need throughout the year, and we will thus be a recipient of these pre-owned clothes that are in good shape, and will allow the beneficiaries to take them.
“Worn-out clothes will be sold to clothing companies and the amount we get will be used to serve the expansion of the organization’s community projects.”
Shoura Council member Hoda Al-Helaissi said recently that the amount of food waste in Saudi Arabia was far too high.
She stressed the importance of introducing stricter penalties against bodies and stores that violated the system.
She told Arab News: “We should work together on the project to combat food waste.
“Collective efforts (will) lead towards the success of the food and clothing waste process, in addition to controlling societal behavior in the issue of waste.”
Food waste costs the country in the region of $10.66 billion annually, and Al-Helaissi added: “The Shoura Council … (has) studied several … European models and tried to emulate their positive aspects and apply them.”
She called on supermarkets to “distribute goods that are about to expire, to those in need, instead of letting them spoil.”
She added: “This should also apply to the many large coffee shops scattered all over the Kingdom that dispose of their leftovers such as cakes, croissants, and pastries on a daily basis.
“The poor and needy are not benefiting from these leftovers, which is an issue that must be reflected on.
“The quantities of wasted food are very large, which is annoying. Everyone must work in solidarity to reduce this irresponsible waste. Waste is not a sibling of generosity. Generosity is one thing, and waste is another.”
She pointed out that Saudis are generous people “but let us not reach levels of waste and failure, and (help) preserve food.”
Al-Helaissi indicated that the European system of food preservation first appeared in France, with Italy, Britain, and then Germany following suit.
She added: “We need community awareness and media coverage at all levels to reduce levels of waste, starting with schools.
“Parents must instill in their children the importance of only buying necessities … and for a person to only buy what they need, as well as raising awareness of the harmful effects sugars and fats have on a person’s health.”