Platform aims to dish out help to meal-service groupsLocal | Carain Yeung 5 Jun 2017
Some 70 percent of food support service points face operational difficulties, a study has found.
St James' Settlement created the collaborative platform FOOD-CO to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of food support services in Hong Kong. The NGO said 3,000 tonnes of food waste is disposed of daily, while not all current food support services can meet demand.
Last August, it commissioned a research institution to study the supply and demand of food support services and the state of food recycling locally.
Currently, 161 service points of direct food distribution across the SAR provide 33,000 sets of meals and packaged food to 15,000 people each day. However, results show the amount handed out is no match for the demand. Among the service points, 72 percent encountered operational problems. More than half said they lacked funding and 35 percent indicated that they do not have sufficient support in logistics.
"FOOD-CO marks an important step forward for the food support sector as it will consolidate the strengths of different parties and enable us to share knowledge and allocate resources more effectively," St James' chief executive Cynthia Luk Ho Kam-wan said.
Launched last month, the platform allows food support service operators and donating companies to share information on the demand and supply of food items and related services. Those in need of the services can also use the FOOD-CO mobile app to locate service points and find out details.
On top of information sharing, the platform also helps the service points to secure manpower support by mobilizing volunteers. As of last Friday, the platform has engaged 26 donating companies and 87 service points.
Senior manager Connie Ng Man-yin said 50,000 hot meals and packaged food items can hopefully be provided to 20,000 people daily by 2019.
Dacars Enchi Lodge serves communities include people in recovery and the elderly. Its liaison officer, Chiu King- leung, said the organization has to call different service points to apply for food aid and recently started using the FOOD- CO platform. It used to take a couple of weeks to get the food but now the wait has been cut to about three days, Chiu said.
With the wait shorter, Chiu said his organization can hopefully apply for food with shorter shelf life, such as dairy products.
FOOD-CO runs with HK$10 million three-year funding from the Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Fund and the service will be extended if it passes the assessment after three years.