Co-founded in 2012, FoodBlessed is a local hunger-relief initiative that works with businesses and the civil society to reduce the number of people going hungry in Lebanon. The community-based, volunteer-driven food rescue program provides an effective and efficient solution to hunger, while addressing the serious and growing problem of food waste in Lebanon.
We distribute free meals and FoodBlessed Food Assistance Packages (FAPs) to those in need, ask the community to be more mindful of the food they let go to waste by offering them with practical solutions to cut down on their food waste generation and providing them with the opportunity to serve food to those in need through volunteering via the concept of Social Responsibility including Individual Social Responsibility (IR) and Corporate Social Responsiblity (CSR).
Whereas the right to sufficient food is enshrined in the International Declaration of Human Rights, it has largely been overlooked for a long time. A proactive rights-based approach to nutrition is now emerging, replacing the traditional food-as-charity and needs-based approaches. FoodBlessed addressed right to food as a human right by providing poverty-stricken people– specifically those who suffer from food poverty and are at the risk of becoming food insecure—with food assistance in the form of free wholly nutritious meals and FFPs packages.
In Lebanon, 30% of the population lives under the poverty line (4$/day) with 10% of these living under extreme poverty conditions (less than 2.5%/day). DESPITE having recorded the highest percentage of poverty in Lebanon, the areas of Beka’a and Akkar receive very little to no attention and/or aid compared to the city Beirut and other areas whose needs might not be as urgent or as big.
MOREOVER, with the current Syrian refugee situation, Lebanon is safe haven to the highest percentage of Syrian refugees in comparison with other hosting countries – indeed, 1 in every 5 Lebanese residents is Syrian. That’s a lot of mouths to feed. UNFORTUNATELY, most projects tackling food poverty are fund based and face a wall when funding is out.
Despite the progress achieved in increasing food production, one sixth of the world’s population still goes hungry. Events such as food price rises and food riots have added urgency. Food security and nutrition are making a comeback on the international development agenda.
Food insecurity is part of a continuum that includes hunger (food deprivation), malnutrition (deficiencies, imbalances, or excesses of nutrients), and famine. Long-term lack of food security eventually becomes hunger, defined by the USDA as “an individual-level physiological condition that may result from food insecurity.” On a population level, extreme lack of food security becomes famine.
Food security does NOT just mean having access to food per se, but also being able to consume and utilize it in a way that ensures mental and physical health. Without good nutrition people cannot realize their potential and make a contribution to society.
In addition to rescuing people from going hungry, FoodBlessed rescues fruits and veggies from going to waste! HOW? By partnering with local food retailers on donating their surplus produce to our food truck instead.
About one third of the world’s food produced for human consumption – approximately 1.3b tonnes worth almost $1 trillion – is lost or wasted every year, according to the UN’s Food and Agricultural agency (FAO). In the MENA region, food waste is one of the most prominent waste streams, especially in the GCC region. But in recent years, worldwide, there have been growing movements to save edible products from going to waste and redistribute them to people in need.
In Lebanon, nearly 30 percent of all edible food in the Lebanon is wasted (65% of that organic like fruits and veggies) while 29% of the Lebanese population living under the poverty line, add to that the 1.6 million Syrian refugees who also the majority of which is not able to make enough money to make ends meet.
With the help of our volunteers (Hunger Heroes), FoodBlessed intercepts unwanted food from various partners, including supermarkets, farms, food retailers, restaurants, catering agencies and even rubbish bins and transforms it into wholesome free meals for those in need. In most cases, the recovered food is perfectly edible, but not sellable donated by supermarkets, restaurants, produce markets, dining facilities and sometimes farms. In most cases, the rescued food is being saved from the dumpster and, ultimately, the landfill.
FoodBlessed provides individuals and companies a realistic chance to develop their community by unleash their inner super heroes Individual Responsibility (IR) and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). We do this through building long term partnerships between Food Donors and Food Donees, organizing awareness campaigns and supporting policy processes.
FoodBlessed’s well-placed food assistance programme has been developed over the years. Meals provided at each of our FoodBlessed soup kitchens are prepared and served by volunteers. We currently serve 400 meals with the help of over 20 volunteers on a tri-weekly basis at our soup kitchens in different locales across Beirut where anyone in need can walk in and enjoy a free hearty meal made with love in the company of caring volunteers who believe in the power of food and know that more than the meal itself, what keeps out regulars coming back is the love we put into our meals because food is love and when you share it, you show those who you share it with how much you care about them.
Article 11 of ICESCR encompasses the right to food as a human right. Food waste is a global endemic. Having always been perplexed by the paradox of so many people going hungry when there’s so much wasted food, Maya Terro became a food activist and co-founded in 2012 ‘FoodBlessed’ which works with businesses and civil society to reduce the number of people going hungry in Lebanon by asking them to be more mindful of the food they let go to waste and offering them with practical solutions.
In 2013, FoodBlessed won FoodBlessed awarded ‘CSR in Action’ Award for the category ‘Best Social Project on CSR’. FoodBlessed is the only entity in Lebanon and the region that tackles Food Poverty via linking the concepts of Individual and Corporate Social Responsibility to those of Food Rescue and Food waste!
The core of our work in FoodBlessed is fuelled by & lies in building sustainable networks by creating primary linkages between food donors & food donees that will eventually take the form of long term partnerships. For one, we approach restaurants and encourage them to donate their surplus or help fundraiser for our cause. If they say yes, we then will link them to a food recipient. The latter include non governmental agencies as well as religious entities & the likes which specifically work with vulnerable groups and underprivileged communities. Our job is to make sure to check what their needs are so that we can better match that with what the donors are offering!
The recipients of FoodBlessed’s bountiful donations (perishable and non perishable alike) include local non profits such as NGOs and religious institutes which serve the low-income community and the destitute in Lebanon (from all walks of life and nationalities irrespective of gender or race). Every dollar raised goes towards feeding vulnerable communities: the elderly, poverty stricken, homeless, and vulnerable people coming from at risk communities like refugees.
The core of my work in FoodBlessed is fuelled by & lies in building sustainable networks between Food Donors & Food Donees
TO DATE, FoodBlessed has HELPED feed more than 250 000 beneficiaries; DISTRIBUTED 2000+ FoodBlessed Food Assistance Packages FFPs, and SOLICITED more than 1000 volunteers Partnered with more than 300 FoodBlessed partners (food and non food companies alike).
SO FAR, A total of 270 000+ FoodBlessed meals in total have been SERVED while hundreds of tons of food were RESCUED from going to waste DISPERSED to those in need in the form of meals and food assistance packages.
UP TO NOW, 168 individuals have PLEDGED to cut down on their food waste by signing the FoodBlessed Pledge.