Feeding the homeless and cutting food waste

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It seems like a no-brainer: Instead of throwing good, quality food into the dumpster or garbage can — donate it to a homeless shelter.

It’s just not that simple.

A resolution at the State Capitol could pave the way for more restaurants, hotels and stores serving ready-to-eat food, to eliminate food waste by feeding the hungry.

It’s a logical, feel-good idea with widespread support — but it is on-hold for now.

The measure passed — with a key amendment that must first be met.

It requires the department to distribute food safety guidelines for temperature controls, transport and sanitation — through the Hawaii Restaurant Association and other interested parties. The department will report back to lawmakers next year.

Many HRA members already work with nonprofit Aloha Harvest to collect food donations. Legislative Lead Victor Lim says HRA supports the amendment and will work with the Health Department going forward.  

Kimo Carvalho, spokesman for the Institute for Human Services, says IHS receives donated food through the certified University of Hawaii Food Recovery Network.

The resolution could also apply to convenience stores selling ready-to-eat foods that have to be tossed after a period of time.

Senator Kurt Fevella knows that not all such food actually makes it to the landfill.

“After a certain time the musubis can’t be there, or, certain foods, they dump it straight in the dumpsters, and how I know that, is because of the family and friends that I know that living on the streets in Ewa Beach, they dumpster-dive, and they grab that food whether it’s the bento, the little bento, still hot, you know, but they jump inside and they grab it and they eat it.”

Fevella is passionate about the resolution, saying it is long overdue. 

“If this would go through and these hotels and restaurants would get no liability, seriously, there’s so much organizations you wouldn’t know. when this would go through, you watch how much people going stand in line to take this food, to feed our needy in Hawaii.”

Food establishments are free to set up their own donation programs — and the Health Department stands ready to help businesses that want to make safe and healthy food donations. 
 

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