Leveraging the power of social media, the “Stop Wasting Food” campaign hopes to contribute significantly to transforming food management within communities, encouraging less waste and redistribution to those in need.

In an article published in 2014, entrepreneur, philanthropist and co-founder of Microsoft Bill Gates powerfully highlighted the impact that hunger has across the developing world:

“When I first started travelling in Africa, I would often meet children in villages I was visiting and try to guess their ages. I was shocked to find out how often I guessed wrong. Kids I thought were 7 or 8 years old based on how tall they were would tell me that they were actually 12 or 13 years old.

“What I was witnessing was the terrible impact of malnutrition in Africa. These children were suffering from a condition known as stunting. They were not starving, but they were not getting enough to eat, leaving them years behind in their development – and it was hard to see how they could ever catch up.”

While millions of children like these go hungry every day across the world, however, over 1 billion tonnes of food is being wasted.

STOP WASTING FOOD

As well as leading to the underdevelopment and death of many people in the developing world, food waste is also generating greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change, while the misuse of land for agriculture is affecting biodiversity.

In developing countries like Vietnam, restaurants and food outlets are growing rapidly in number, with the waste each generates easy to see at the end of every business day. Meanwhile, however, many still suffer significant food shortages, with thousands still unable to find enough to eat on a daily basis.

In response to this issue, the Centre of Hands-on Actions and Networking for Growth and Environment (CHANGE) in collaboration with the Global Movement for Climate Change 350.org Vietnam formally launched the Stop Wasting Food project. The program will last for three years, aiming to raise public awareness of the seriousness of food waste.

Along with a number of other popular public figures, singer Ha Okio has joined the program as a goodwill ambassador. Commenting on her decision to join, she says: “I decided to be a goodwill ambassador for the Stop Wasting Food campaign because I believe it is a problem that excessive amounts of food is being wasted while there are still people in difficult situations that can’t afford food. Stop Wasting Food will be a long battle as it is difficult to get people to change their habits, but this only underlines how important it is to start right now.”

Singer Thao Trang, another ambassador for the programme, added: “I may be successful today, however I too faced difficulties growing up, included times when food was very scarce. My family and I are thankful those times have passed, however we are still very conscious of saving and not wasting food. By participating in the Stop Wasting Food campaign, I hope to contribute to changing food waste habits.”

Eat up your portion

“Stop Wasting Food” will incorporate many different initiatives, including:

• Calling on communities to reduce food waste
• Approaching restaurants and hotels to encourage diners to reduce waste
• Recruiting famous artists and performers to become goodwill ambassadors Applying effective food waste restriction models
• Providing meals for hungry children

The program will launch in May 2015 with social network campaign “Eat Up” that will run until the end of November. The campaign encourages the community to upload pictures of the empty dinner plates and bowls to Facebook or Instagram with hashtags #anhetroi, #eatupfood.

With support from goodwill ambassadors, the project is expected to reach up to 100,000 social media users, creating a food waste movement aimed at encouraging behaviour change in communities. Close to 30 restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City will be participating, all of which will be contributing toward a fund that aims to provide 2,000 meals for 1,000 disadvantaged children in shelters, charities and hospitals across Ho Chi Minh City.

Tips to help limit food waste

Smaller portions
– Start with a smaller portion of food, ordering more later if you need to

Use leftovers
– If there are leftovers from your dinner, keep them and create new dishes with them the following day

Buy less
– Only buy the food you need. Not only will this reduce waste, but save you money too!

Planning meals
– Before going shopping, first check the fridge and cupboards and prioritise using the food you have before buying more

Storage
– Ensure that you are properly storing food to help extend its life, either in the refrigerator; cool, dry areas; on in airtight containers

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