NSTDA and SOS Foundation discuss plans for national food bank


Thailand's National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) co-hosted a public hearing with the Scholars of Sustenance Foundation (SOS) on Sunday to outline the plan to establish a national food bank.

The move is part of the agency's efforts to establish a sustainable and practical system for managing the country's food waste.

Nuanwan Sanguansak, vice president of NTSDA’s strategy and budgeting management section, said the public hearing aimed to gather feedback on guidelines for managing excess food in Thailand, which will lead to the establishment of the National Food Bank.

This will aid in resolving the issue of food loss or waste, thus reducing its environmental impact.

An effective food management system will also aid in the development of appropriate solutions to address food security for vulnerable people who do not have adequate access to nutritious food.

More than 60 representatives from various agencies, both public and private, attended the event to share their ideas, which will form the guidelines for the development of a robust policy to manage excess food in Thailand, as well as to establish the country's food bank.

They also exchanged ideas on how to raise awareness of food surplus. This is not leftover food but food items that have not sold but are still edible. Discussions also focused on the logistics issues that a food delivery management system must address.

One of the suggestions put forward was setting up a warehouse or a cold room where food could be stored before being delivered to those in greatest need.

A representative of the SOS Foundation proposed that government agencies share information about the locations of vulnerable groups.

“By linking the data between different networks, SOS will be able to deliver food to the right target group and it can also reduce costs in terms of transportation,” a spokesperson for SOS said.

According to NTSDA policy researcher Patamaporn Prachumrat, the move was prompted by a study that found that one in every three food products is discarded. This is not only a waste of resources, but it also poses a threat to the environment by emitting greenhouse gases.

NSTDA and SOS Foundation discuss plans for national food bank

As NTSDA already has technologies in place for the management of surplus food, she stated that it is one of its primary missions to support surplus food management and promote more efficient delivery of donations.

Citing NECTEC’s digital platform as an example, she noted that it automatically matches needs with donated food and is linked to the SOS Foundation's Cloud Food Bank system.

In terms of carbon reduction measures, she stated that NTSDA plans to conduct a carbon footprint study on salvaged surplus food.

“This will be useful and an incentive for donors to inform society about how much their donation reduces carbon emissions. And in the future, we might be able to make some money from this,” she said.

Noting that the principle of food excess donations is networking among various donors from over 1,200 brands, she said it is a priority to create incentives for continuous and increasing donations.

She also stated that all parties involved should pay close attention to the food that reaches the recipient.

Aside from sufficient quantities, donations of surplus food must be managed in terms of quality, implying complete nutrition, which requires the collaboration of all the parties involved .

She also suggested adding more channels for donating, as well as more diverse communications and incentives, in order to reach a larger number of people who want to donate.