•Source： Taiwan Today
•By June Tsai
A group of ROC legislators has proposed the establishment of a national food banking system to store surplus food and deliver it to families and communities that need it the most.
“The Public Assistance Act would be revised to provide a legal basis and budget for such a system to operate,” said Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lin Chia-lung, initiator of the proposal, at a news conference May 3.
The law in its current form focuses on providing cash subsidies to disadvantaged people. An amendment to Article 11 would bring in material aid, and allow local governments to set up regional food banks and supply help to economically disadvantaged communities in emergencies, he explained.
“If the amendment is passed, Taiwan will join 21 countries of the world with food bank networks,” including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Turkey, the U.K. and U.S, he said.
Environmental Protection Administration statistics show that 2.75 million tons of food went to waste in 2010, equivalent to 20 years of consumption by 260,000 low-income households, Lin said.
Under the food banking system, donated food would be acquired from farmers, manufacturers, distributors and consumers, and made available to those in need, through such agencies as after-school programs, hospices and halfway houses and other nonprofit programs that provide food to the hungry.
The amendment is expected to engage local governments, civil society and businesses to help address poverty and waste, Lin said.
A food bank organized by civic groups has been operating for several months in Taichung City, benefiting around 20,000 people, said Chen Chieh-fu, Taichung chapter director for the Red Cross Society of Taiwan.
Experience has shown, however, that the public still needs to be educated about food banking so that surplus food can be acquired and delivered efficiently, Chen said. “The amendment should take this into consideration.”
Craig A. Nemitz, director of field services for Chicago-based Global FoodBanking Network, told the media that worldwide 1 billion people are living in hunger. His organization hopes to change the situation through localized networks that ensure the safety of donated food and quality of management, he added. “We will help Taiwan set up a national food bank conforming to international standards.”