FoodBank /Xpotlight
21 March 2014 – Insights from our founder, Nichol Ng at the Food Banking Leadership Institute
From 17th - 20th March, I had the privilege of being invited to attend the Food Banking Leadership Institute in Houston Texas organised by The Global Food Banking Network ( http://www.foodbanking.org ).


[Image credit: usa.chinadaily.com.cn]

JeffKlein (center), president and CEO of the Global Food Banking Network, with Nichol Ng (right), co-founder of the Food Bank of Singapore and Eddy Tapsir, a member from Singapore at a reception held at the Asia Society's Texas Center on Tuesday. Over 60 global hunger fighters attended the Food Bank Leadership Institute (FBLI) in Houston from Monday to today, to exchange ideas on how to fight world hunger. Ken Jones for China Daily
The Institute was organised in America's Largest Food Bank - The Houston Food Bank. It was really an eye opener to see how professional the operations were although they were dealing with mainly excess and close to expired foods, something which most people would classify as "rubbish" in our Asian context. Amongst the American Food Banks, they have a genuine respect for such foods because they have found a system to give these foods a new lease of life to feed the ones who are Food Insecure.
During these 4 days, I met with people from more than 31 countries ranging from Nigeria to Hong Kong, Poland to Columbia. Everyone shared common sentiments and issues with increasing food costs, increasing hungry mouths to feed and yet irregular Food Donations. Importantly, many were also concerned with the increasing amounts of Food Wastage on a global level and the role that the Food Bank can play within the supply chain system. Whilst different countries have different levels of poverty and hunger, there is no denying that there is food waste and hungry mouths to feed in every nation and city.
The important question that I kept asking myself is what can I do for the context of Singapore –the World's Most Expensive City.
We import up to 90% of all our food and yet we can waste up to 30% or more of everything that we import.
The contradiction is that whilst many things in Singapore such as houses and cars can be pricey, the simple things in life like a basic hot meal can still be purchased at very affordable prices.
This can be 1 of the reasons why we do not think twice about throwing food away. Probably another contributing factor is that Singapore is a Free Port and hence importing food is also relatively cheaper compared to other countries with hefty taxes.
Whatever the question is, we know that alot needs to be done for a first world country like Singapore. A small organisation like us can only begin to start asking the difficult questions and take the small steps to slowly reduce the food wastage and reduce levels of food insecurity in Singapore.
2 weeks after coming back from the USA, I am even more inspired to do what I can to make things happen.
The Food Bank Singapore can accomplish alot more and we can only do this with the support of various stakeholders and beneficiaries.We should not be turning a blind eye to the level of Food Wastage and we most definitely should not turn a deaf ear to the hungry calls for help.
Dear friends, if you have any ideas of how we can work together in big or small ways, please write to us and share your thoughts on what we can do.
Collectively, we can take this first step to giving all excess food a new home rather than just sending them direct to the dumpster.
Let the Feeding Begin,