Saudi food bank gives life to leftover meals

Ita’am, launched by the Al-Forzan social foundation in May 2010, recruits a team of workers that meticulously handle leftover food from banquets. (Reuters)

Millions of meals are left over from extravagant Saudi feasts and dinner parties, only to meet their fate at the garbage dump.

But one charity in the eastern city of Dammam aims to change that by setting up a food bank to collect those uneaten dishes, instead giving them to the less fortunate.

“Do you know that every day four million meals are thrown away? It’s a shocking number that prompted businessmen already engaged in charity to start this project.”

Khaled al-Khan explains the food bank’s mission in a nutshell.

“We collect surplus food – food that has not been consumed on the buffet, not leftovers – pack it and deliver it to those who need it.”

Ita’am, launched by the Al-Forzan social foundation in May 2010, recruits a team of workers that meticulously handle leftover food from banquets. Norah al-Dumairi, team supervisor says health and hygiene are of utmost importance when collecting uneaten food.

“When we go to pack food, we are prepared with our coats, gloves and head coverings to ensure the entire process is hygienic.”

“Our meals are suitable for everyone as it is quality food that can be consumed at one’s convenience.”

Many female workers like Um Hamed and Safiah find the work rewarding and are proud to be part of the initiative.

Ita’am director Hammad al-Dowalea says many charity associations help deliver the food to listed recipients.

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