Food wastage is a worldwide problem. Whilst global food production is more than sufficient for the planet’s entire population, the tragedy is that millions of tonnes goes straight into landfills, even as far too many people go completely without food-or with too little.
Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted, with the subject receiving increasing attention from the UN and other international organisations.
In the USA, reportedly, half of all food produced is thrown away. In the UK, the country’s largest supermarket chain, Tesco, discarded the equivalent of 119 million meals in the last financial year (2015/16). This equates to a staggering one in every 100 food products that Tesco sells. And all this is before considering food thrown away after purchase. Developed countries, who share much of the blame for this problem, are finally starting to take this issue seriously and awareness is slowly increasing. Tesco has taken the initiative of publishing details of the efforts made by the company to reduce wastage on its website.
Tesco is marketed with the tagline “Every little helps”, which is a good fit for an initiative launched by the Bohra community in Pune, India, to tackle food waste in community functions. Inspired by Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin’sTUS pronouncements that every last grain should be consumed with nothing thrown away, measures have been implemented to cut down on excess and waste.
(The following was reported by sakaltimes.com):
The head of the project in Pune, Husain Hebatullah, commented, “We started four years back by going to community events and collecting leftover food, which we would then distribute among the needy. Looking at the amount of wastage, we started questioning the quantity of food being produced. And so we began looking at ways in which we could bring that down.”
Hebatullah said that they started by approaching those hosting the functions and requesting the invitee list from them.
“Once we had the list we saved all the phone numbers and sent messages to every invitee, asking them whether they would be attending. We then gave the host the RSVP numbers, who in turn informed the caterer – and food was prepared accordingly,” he explained.
Tasting success, an app was developed – ‘Izan RSVP’ (‘izan’ means invitation) – to automate and refine the process. “Now the host could upload the list of invitees on their mobile, through the app. The app then sent out a message with an RSVP link to each invitee, and on clicking through, a personalized message greeted them, and they were able to confirm attendance as well as give numbers, which the app collated.”
“If they didn’t respond, the app automatically sent out a reminder after some days. Finally, if they still didn’t respond, we made phone calls. The app then finalised the attendee list and sent that back to the host.”
According to Hebatullah, in the last three to four months the team has helped save nearly Rs 500,000 from handling just twenty events through the app – simply by collating precise numbers. “Even after this, there is some excess food which is collected by our team and distributed among the underprivileged at night,” he explained.
“If others are interested in undertaking similar projects, we will be more than happy to help them.”
The Izan app is currently available on Android with an iOS version under development and expected to be completed within the next couple of months.
The idea was developed by Huzefa Patrawala and Husain Hebatullah who are now running the scheme. A nominal fee of Rs 20/- (about US$0.30) is charged per thaal – eight guests – in accordance with the guest list.
Around 25 jamaats have inquired about the use of the app in their own cities and towns and it is hoped these will be put into action soon. For further information jamaats are welcome to contact Mr Huzefa Patrawala on +91 9028745119.