Yuliia Priyma, the Chairperson of the Association, shared all the details about their work.
In recent years, there has been growing concern in the world about the problem of food loss and food waste. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), one-third of the food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted worldwide each year, amounting to about 1.3 billion tons per year worth approximately $1 trillion. What's more, all the food produced but never eaten is enough to feed two billion people - more than twice the number of undernourished people worldwide.
In Ukraine, which has been at war with Russia since February 24, 2022 following a full-scale invasion by the latter, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) considers four possible scenarios, the worst of which is the number of those living below the poverty line and those who can cross the poverty line may reach 90.5% of the entire population if the war drags on beyond 2023. Of this 90.5%, under the worst scenario, 28% will be below the poverty line, and 62.5% may cross the poverty line. At the same time, according to UN statistics, every year Ukrainians throw away about 7 million tons of food.
Food banks act as a solution to this problem, as their activities are directly related to preventing the transformation of edible food into waste along the entire production chain and transfer to people in need of food assistance. They seek to bridge the gap between surplus and need by creating and facilitating infrastructure that allows for the collection and redistribution of surplus food that cannot be sold. In this way, people suffering from hunger receive food aid and the amount of food waste is reduced.
Wanting to minimize the quantitative indicators of organic waste and at the same time fight hunger, in the fall of 2019, activists created the public organization «Tarilka» (Plate) in Lviv city, which became the first food bank in Ukraine, which works on the principle of rescuing edible food products and directly helping those in need. The members of the team tried to actively popularize the idea of the culture of food banks, thanks to which, already in the spring of 2021, another «Tarilka» started working in Kyiv city, and at the beginning of February 2022 - in Kherson city.
First significant steps in Ukraine
Aiming to manage surplus food and its redistribution among those in need as effectively as possible, in January 2023 we created the Association of Food Banks in Ukraine «TARILKA». I consider this a big step towards increasing the number of food banks in Ukraine, whose activity, in my opinion, is very important. It pains me every time I meet destitute people who are forced to choose between food and medicine, or between paying utilities and a week's supply of food. For me, food rescue is primarily about helping people. After all, this food has already been produced, the resources have been spent, so it is so logical and natural that this food fulfills its purpose. And to collect it in time, save it and give it to those in need - this is the main task of food banks. And it is very good that by saving food, we save not only people, but also the environment!
In order to popularize the culture of food banks in Ukraine, with the support of the Ukrainian Charitable Zagoriy Foundation, we have developed a manual for opening and developing a food bank «Tarilka in your city», which is available to anyone who would like to open a food bank in their locality. The Association is currently working on a course of lectures for schoolchildren on the rational use of food, aiming to teach the younger generation the rules of planning, storage and efficient use of all products that their families buy for home use.
The consequences of a war now in its 10th year and a full-scale invasion lasting more than a year are an increase in food prices and at the same time a decrease in the income of the population, periodic power outages, and limited access to food products in some regions of Ukraine. Therefore, the rational consumption of food products, which has been of interest to many Ukrainians before, is becoming more and more popular and acquires new meanings. Environmental organizations and eco-conscious public activists are becoming more prominent and their influence is more significant.
Thus, Zero Waste Alliance Ukraine - a union of organizations and activists of Ukraine working on solving the waste problem in Ukraine - work on reforming the waste and resource management system in Ukraine, shifting the focus from the discourse of «how to recycle waste» to the discourse of «how to prevent formation of waste», including food waste. This means, first of all, looking for ways to reuse and popularize composting.
Having learned about the mission of our food banks - to save food that saves people - the famous Ukrainian chef and restaurateur Yevhen Klopotenko supported our initiative by developing recipes for everyone who wants to use food wisely and not throw it in the trash, even if the expiration date is approaching end or has already ended.
Here it is worth noting that, unlike European countries, where the sale of food products is based on the principle of «safe for consumption, and therefore can be consumed», in Ukraine, food products whose consumption date «Use by» has passed cannot be transferred to people who significantly reduces the amount of products that food banks can handle and increases the amount of food waste in the total volume of waste.
And while we are working to make the necessary changes in the legislation of Ukraine, based on European experience, Yevhen promotes the rational use of all food products that have not lost their qualities and are safe for consumption, despite the date stamped on the packaging. So now Ukrainians can safely prepare bread cake with caramelized apples, pasta with stewed cabbage, sweet potato in the oven with lemon and other tasty and healthy dishes from products that definitely do not belong in the trash.
So, as we can see, the issue of rational food consumption is quite extensive and needs to be approached comprehensively. Ukraine does not stay away from the problem of food waste and, despite the difficult conditions in which we live now, our public organizations and public figures conduct educational activities, encouraging and teaching the correct handling of food products. Big goals are achieved with small steps. I believe that we in Ukraine will also succeed!