Food donations – help the poor and avoid food waste
Food donation is an important lever for reducing food poverty and food waste across Europe. This was the key message delivered by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) during the conference "Food donation. Fighting food poverty and addressing food waste", held in Brussels on 7 July in cooperation with the European Federation of Food Banks (FEBA).
EESC President Henri Malosse opened the event with a statement on Europe's responsibility: "A society which wastes one third of its edible food while so many human beings are suffering from hunger cannot call itself human".
Though many companies and individuals would be ready to donate surplus food, legislative and practical barriers – which vary between Member States – actually prevent them from doing so.
Clearer rules to facilitate food donation
During the conference, Bio by Deloitte presented the results of a study commissioned by the EESC which focused on hurdles and good practices with regard to food donation. There are already good examples of legislation and practices facilitating food donation in Europe – they simply need to be rolled out. EU-wide guidance on fiscal instruments, food use hierarchy, liability and food durability is needed.
"The study clearly shows that a better harmonised European legislative framework on food donation is absolutely necessary to facilitate access to food resources for the most deprived", said Gerard Alix, project manager of FEBA.
The study followed on from the EESC opinion, adopted in March 2013, on civil society contribution to food losses and food waste. "The report represents a valuable basis for the next crucial steps in making donation easier while guaranteeing food safety. We now need to take action at EU level", said Yves Somville.
Food banks a key player
In the EU, 79 million EU citizens live below the poverty line and 16 million depend on food aid from charitable institutions, while 89 million tons of food is wasted. Food banks play a crucial role in the food donation process, recovering food from donors (food manufacturers, distributors, retailers or individuals) and redistributing it to civil society organisations and social services supporting the most deprived.
The European Economic and Social Committee represents the various economic and social components of organised civil society. It is an institutional consultative body established by the 1957 Treaty of Rome. Its consultative role enables its members, and hence the organisations they represent, to participate in the EU decision-making process. The Committee has 353 members from across Europe, who are appointed by the Council of the European Union.