JEDDAH: In Saudi Arabia, Ramadan tables often end up with a lot of untouched food left behind. While some of it can be packed off to friends and relatives, most gets thrown away. But the days of wasted leftover iftar and sahoor meals could soon be a thing of the past.
The not-for-profit Grace Conservation Association (GCA) collects excess food from caterers, wedding parties, restaurants and individuals, and gives it to people who genuinely need it.
The Saudi-based association started in 2013 in Makkah targeting excess of all types, from food to clothes, then distributing the care packages among the needy.
Due to the rising quantity of food received and distributed by the GCA, the board of directors decided to scale up the target to more than 6.1 million beneficiaries in 2017.
According to statistics published on the association’s website, the total number of meals distributed during the last three years reached approximately 3.5 million.
The four-year-old GCA also operates in the Grand Mosque, targeting iftar meals. For the first time 250,000 meals were collected during the last 20 days of Ramadan. The food was then redistributed to people in need.
Osama Al-Filali, chairman of the board of directors, said the association has partnered with several enterprises, including Al-Birr Foundation in Makkah, Dhaif Al-Sufra Foundation, Sanabel Al-Salam Co., Aquat Food Industry and Al-Mawarid Co. for the distribution of clothes, as well as a number of hotels, restaurants and wedding halls to collect excess food.
Abdul Qader Al-Bakri, a board member, said that apart from the hotline, donors can also reach out to the GCA by phone (0564070104 / 0554907842).
Explaining the food collection system, Al-Bakri said the association’s drivers can go wherever the donors are.
“They check the produce on the spot and bring it to the center. Only once the food has been declared fit for consumption by medical experts will it then be distributed among the underprivileged,” he said.
According to a study conducted by Safola Co., Saudi Arabia ranks third in food wastage in the world, with 8 million tons of food wasted annually.
Food donors can contact the association on its 24/7 helpline (920003063).