Malaysia is one of many countries that have both food insecurity issue on one hand and obesity problem on the others (1). More than one-third of the food produced today in Malaysia is lost or wasted (2). On the 4th of April 2019, Associate Professor Dr Hazreen B Abdul Majid and four Doctor of Public Health students visited The Lost Food Project (TLFP) warehouse at Kampung Attap, Kuala Lumpur.
The Lost Food Project is a Non-Governmental Organization which act as a food bank that encourages wholesalers or retailers to donate their extra food rather than be discarded away. These foods are collected and allocated to various welfare institutions, refugees’ communities as well as soup kitchens, among others. The TLFP serves triple purposes in reducing food wastage, combating food insecurity and contributing towards food sustainability. This is reflected by the motto ‘Rescue Food. Reduce Waste. Fight Hunger’. The TLFP is a success as the project has helped to rescue over 790 tons of surplus food to provide over 2.6 million meals to people in need while preventing more than one kg of carbon emission entering the atmosphere (3).
The hands-on involvement was an eye-opening experience and offered us a glimpse into the operational aspect of the program. For example, we learned how foods were collected from donors, sorted out at the warehouse and finally distributed to the beneficiaries. Practically, we saw firsthand how most of the unwanted vegetables were still edible and in good quality.
From public health’s perspective, we should look at food wastage, food insecurity and food sustainability issues from a macroscopic view. In line with Sustainable Development Goals (like zero hunger, good health and well-being, responsible consumption and production and climate action), we can focus on the upstream factors to address the social determinant of health at the national level. Various key stakeholders like the Public Health and Nutrition Division, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture and NGOs like TLFP can collaborate to expand the existing operation to different states and even at the national level.
(Prepared by DrPH candidates who is taking MWA8015 module)
- UNICEF. Malaysia: Overcoming childhood obesity and malnutrition in Malaysia, news release. [Internet]. 2016 April 7 [cited 2019 April 7].
- Siti Wahidah Abd Ghafar. Food Waste in Malaysia: Trends, Current Practices and Key Challenges. FFTC Agricultural Policy Articles. [Internet]. 2018 Jan [cited 2019 April 7].
- The Lost Food Project (2018). The lost food project.