To commemorate the month of October as a month of food preservation awareness, Waste4Change reviewed some local communities/startups/companies that have contributed in managing food and organic materials so that they do not end up becoming waste that is not only polluting the environment. Food waste that is not handled properly is one of the causes of ozone depletion.
Garda Pangan, a social/eco enterprise from Surabaya has actively invited the surrounding community and provided solutions to minimize food waste and alleviate hunger since last June 2017. Initiated by 3 people: Eva Bachtiar, Dedhy Trunoyudho, and Indah Audivtia, until the end of August 2019, Garda Pangan had collected 88,883 food portions and distributed them to 76,591 beneficiaries from the underprivileged communities in Surabaya and surrounding areas.
Let’s get to know the spirit and activities of Garda Pangan deeper with Eva Bachtiar, an Industrial Engineering alumni of the Bandung Institute of Technology who is currently active as the CEO and Co-Founder of Garda Pangan, as well as the owner of a zero-waste store in Surabaya.
Garda Pangan: Why Bin It If You Can Feed People in Need?
What is the main reason behind the founding of Garda Pangan?
Eva Bachtiar: Garda Pangan was formed because of our concern for food waste. Especially if you look at statistics, Indonesia itself is the second largest food waste disposal country in the world, where 1 person can dispose of 300kg of food each year, while there are still 19.4 million Indonesians who are still starving and struggling to eat every day.
Garda Pangan sees 3 negative impacts of food waste:
- Economic impact, because when we dispose of food, actually what is wasted is not only the food but also all the resources used to produce the food, including land, electricity, fuel, labor, transportation, etc.
- Environmental impact, the fact is not many people know that food waste that is piled up in landfills emits methane gas which is 23 times more dangerous than carbon dioxide and is one of the contributing gases to greenhouse emissions.
- Social impact, because in our opinion, it’s such an irony that food is wasted in large quantities, while there are still many people who are starving.
Garda Pangan was formed to connect the potential of this excess food with the underprivileged people who need the food so that it can reduce the negative impact of the 3 aspects above.
How critical/serious is the problem of food waste in the mind of Garda Pangan?
Eva Bachtiar: In 2017, Garda Pangan conducted a simple survey to look at the behavior of people in Surabaya in terms of food waste. The survey results showed that 92% of respondents said that food should be consumed, and only 8% of them believed that it was okay for us not to eat their food, for several reasons.
Unfortunately, these beliefs are different from what they practice in everyday life. When eating at home, 54% of respondents tend to spend their food, and 46% tend not to spend their food. Another fact is that when they eat out, the number of respondents who spend their food decreases to 40%, while 60% of them tend to leave their leftovers.
We also asked about the respondent’s behavior towards food scraps: 43% manage it by wrapping it up, donating it, or storing it for later consumption, but another 57% throws it into trash. The results of this survey show us that often what we believe about food is not in line with what we apply in our daily lives.
One thing that is not widely realized is: food waste is a serious problem. It is predicted that in 2020 we will face food scarcity, and given all the negative impacts of food waste – both economically, environmentally and socially – it’s time for all individuals to take part in this movement.
Food is one of the most basic human needs, so our beneficiaries find it very helpful to help access this food. Many of the experiences we have met in the field make us even more convinced, that food that we often take for granted and we throw away easily, may be something that other people crave.
“There is a lot of experience that we have met in the field that makes us even more convinced, that the food that we take for granted and we throw away easily, may be something that other people crave.”
What is the program carried out by the Garda Pangan and how many people/foundations/organizations have been involved in the Garda Pangan activities?
One of the main programs of Garda Pangan is Food Rescue, which is to save surplus food produced by restaurants, hotels, cafes, bakeries, and other food industries. Before being distributed, food will be sorted and checked for the quality. Proper food will be repackaged, then distributed to the needy people who are in need, while food that is not edible by human anymore will be processed into animal feed and then, compost.
Apart from the hospitality industry, the Garda Pangan also takes the initiative to pick up excess food produced from events, weddings, parties, or celebrations that leave a large amount of excess food. In this case, we also collaborate with catering and wedding organizers.
Food drive or collecting surplus food donations at certain moments. For example, the collection of excess cookies after the Eid al-Fitr, or when natural disasters occur. Donations are collected in several ways, including by leaving donation boxes in several drop points in Surabaya, to picking up donations by volunteers.
Another activity carried out by the Garda Pangan is Gleaning, which collects crop yields on agricultural land or plantations that are wasted because of their appearance that does not meet market cosmetic standards.
Garda Pangan is currently managed by temporary core volunteers for daily operational activities assisted by public volunteers. At present there are 30 core volunteers and more than 500 public volunteers who have supported the Garda Pangan activities.
The main beneficiaries of the Garda Pangan food distribution are underprivileged communities in Surabaya, which have been carefully selected and surveyed, so that the assistance provided is right on target. The process of food distribution is also done carefully to avoid the emergence of dependency among the community.
Currently there are a total record of 110 locations and areas of poverty:
- 25 pre-prosperous villages
- 2 shelter street children
- 2 pre-prosperous flat
- 3 patient shelter
- 5 Liponsos (Social Cottage Environment)
- 73 orphanages and nursing homes
Waste4Change: What are the Garda Pangan advice and tips for managing leftovers?
One simple guide we can all follow up on is called the Food Recovery Hierarchy. This diagram shows priority order of the best way to prevent food from ending in the landfill.
Some steps we can take are:
- Plan your meal (meal prep) for the next few days or a week so that we can buy and prepare the right amount of ingredients
- Store our food according to optimal settings in the refrigerator that can make food last longer
- If there is excess food, save it for later enjoyment
- Pay attention to the label Best Before and Expiration Date (expiration date) of the food we buy
- When eating out, ask for portions that you can spend.
- Don’t be allergic to eating fruits or vegetables that may not be in a perfect aesthetic appearance, but have the same nutrients.
By taking these simple steps, we should be able to avoid significant amounts of food waste. However, if there is still excess food, then based on the table above, the next priority is:
- Donate the food to your family, neighbors, or people in need around us. Thus, this food can still fulfill its main function as a provider of human food.
- If food is no longer suitable or stale, the next priority is to use it for animal feed
- And finally it is only used for processing into compost.
Garda Pangan is here to be a solution for the environment so that we can all use food ingredients for the welfare of the surrounding community, both economically, environmentally and socially. Come on, together help manage food ingredients so that they don’t end up as trash that pollutes the environment!