Turning unsold Ramadan bazaar food into aid

Reaching out: Youth and Sports Ministry officials visiting a stall at the Parit Betak Ramadan bazaar in Benut, Pontian, Johor.

PONTIAN: The Youth and Sports Ministry, via its Pontian office, has kicked off an effort to tackle food wastage at a Ramadan bazaar here where more than 110kg of unsold food and beverages were collected in under three days.

Pontian Youth and Sports assistant officer Mohamed Azrul Syam Mohamed Yusof said young volunteers around 20 years old have been roped in for the initiative, which collects unsold bazaar food to be distributed to needy folks for their buka puasa (breaking of fast) meals.

A collection booth was set up at the Parit Betak Ramadan bazaar in Benut here on April 6, as part of the MySaveFood @ Ramadan Bazaars programme, he said.

“The volunteers will check, weigh and label the items at the booth to remind recipients to consume the food and beverages within two hours of receiving them, to avoid it all from turning bad.

“The meals are then distributed to less fortunate families based on lists provided by village chiefs.

“The programme was well received by both traders and consumers alike as some customers even donated food and beverage as a form of sedekah (charity).

“Since it started, we have collected more than 110kg of food and beverages such as murtabak, drinks, rice meals and kuih.

“The programme will run until April 13,” he said when interviewed by The Star.

Apart from curbing food waste and helping the needy, the initiative also helps spread good values among the youth volunteers and raise their awareness about current issues, said Mohamed Azrul Syam.

He added that the volunteers involved were from the Tanjung Piai Rakan Muda Club and Pontian Jejak Orang Muda Club, and it was also a way to encourage volunteerism among youth.

He said the ministry’s Pontian office was one of the three involved in running such a programme, with the other two being in Batu Pahat and Tangkak.

Mohamed Azrul Syam said it was slow-going on the first day as traders had yet to warm up to the concept.

“As this was our first time organising such a programme, our staff members and volunteers went from stall to stall to explain it to the traders. The response improved significantly after that.

“Although it is a small effort, we hope to do our part in reducing the amount of food waste that is sent to landfills, and to bring down carbon emissions.

“We plan to submit a report to the ministry at the end of the programme and recommend that it be expanded to more locations to benefit more needy families in the future,” he added.

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