Produce 'rescue': Looking to Israeli initiatives to combat world hunger

September 5, 2017 01:48

Advocating the need for food banks throughout the world, Moon believes that this is the key element in reducing the number of hungry and malnourished people.

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Produce 'rescue': Looking to Israeli initiatives to combat world hunger

LEKET ISRAEL volunteers pick produce for the needy.. (photo credit: COURTESY LEKET ISRAEL)

“The good news is that if you look at the world population who lives with chronic hunger [people who don’t consume enough calories in their daily diets], that has dramatically decreased over the past 20 years. There are still about 800 million people in the world who go to bed hungry,” Lisa Moon told The Jerusalem Post in an exclusive interview on Monday, adding that they mainly reside in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia.

For the past 18 months, Moon has been president and CEO of the Global Food-Banking Network (GFN), an international nonprofit organization working in 32 countries, dedicated to alleviating world hunger by creating, supporting and strengthening food banks around the world that currently serve 57 million people annually.

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On her first trip to Israel, Moon is primarily visiting the Leket Israel facilities outside of Ra’anana, meeting with the staff and observing practices that Leket is using in Israel that can be applied throughout the world to combat hunger.

Leket, Israel’s national food bank, has “rescued” some 15,000 tons of produce for the needy which mainly comes from farms throughout Israel.

“So far, the biggest takeaway for me is that Leket’s approach is really unique, because they focus on fresh fruits and vegetables and working with local producers and focusing on nutrition with the people they are serving and people in food banks all over the world,” Moon said.

Moon, an expert on global international policy and food waste, who has been involved with GFN since 2015, explained the shift in world hunger from chronic hunger to “hidden hunger.”

“When people who may have enough to eat on a fairly regular basis but may have to miss meals, and they also don’t have access to nutritious foods, and, regrettably, about one in four people globally has micronutrient deficiencies and is subject to ‘hidden hunger’ – that’s really the hunger that food banks are working to address,” she said.

Moon noted that we are living in a time when there is enough food for everyone, yet the statistics show that one in nine people in the world go to bed hungry.

“It doesn’t matter how much food we produce; if we don’t have a way to distribute it to the people who are in need, we are still going to have a hunger issue,” she said. “So it’s an honor for me to work with food banks, because they really work with distribution.”

Advocating the need for food banks throughout the world, Moon believes that this is the key element in reducing the number of hungry and malnourished people.

“Right now, hunger is not about food production,” she said, “because, right now, we produce enough food for everyone to have enough. It’s a distribution challenge and a logistics problem. And so what is so challenging about that is that a third of all the food that is produced goes to waste.”

Explaining the need to provide impoverished communities with food banks, Moon said the challenge facing these organizations is getting this food directly to those in need efficiently and, of course, cheaply.

“And so we need a mechanism to take that surplus food which is edible,” she said. “We need a way to capture that surplus food and redistribute it to those who can’t access this at the store – maybe the price is too high, maybe they’re too sick. That’s really the role of food banks. And that’s why GFN is so passionate about promoting this model to communities around the world.”

Moon credits Leket Israel for its “unique method of collecting fresh, rescued food from the top of the food chain at the level of agricultural production.”

Hoping to apply Leket’s model on a global level, Moon said: “We must focus on scaling food rescue around the world in order to meet growing demands and enter emerging markets.”

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