A life-changing project making a tangible impact on vulnerable people on the streets of Hanoi
“Since having support from VietHarvest, our vulnerable people have bigger dinners. We take as much as possible to feed children and the elderly
on the streets around Hanoi.”
Since mid-2022 Action on Poverty has supported social enterprise VietHarvest’s mission to feed people in need, alleviate hunger and poverty, and innovate for social impact in Vietnam.
As you will know, income shock and food insecurity have been major economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in both developing and developed nations around the world. And in Vietnam the pandemic has delayed poverty reduction progress and increased inequality.
Household food security is tenuous in Vietnam. Although Vietnam made advances in poverty alleviation in the years before the pandemic, a 2022 World Bank report found a large group of the population remains economically vulnerable, with around one in five Vietnamese usually living below the economic security line of US$5.50-a-day. One in ten are vulnerable to occasionally slipping beneath it due to a shock.
VietHarvest’s solution is to rescue quality surplus food and partner with the organisations that help feed people in Vietnam’s underserved communities. Working with food manufacturers, retailers, and the hospitality and agriculture sectors, the project effectively reduces quality food waste by redirecting it to feed hungry people.
Surplus food is the food along the supply chain that is suitable for human consumption. Perfectly safe to consume, within expiration date, but can’t be sold, and therefore ideal for donation. Fruit and vegetables, dry goods, meat, dairy, eggs, cooked meals packed for takeaway, sandwiches and wraps, cakes, pastries, baked goods… are all rescued by VietHarvest and redirected to those most in need on the streets of Hanoi.
From the beginning of its food rescue operations in September 2022, VietHarvest has rescued over 2,681kg of surplus food. That’s approximately 5,362 meals delivered to its charity partners and passed on to those in most need!
VietHarvest’s partner GLC Charity provides food and other essentials to people living rough on the streets of Hanoi. A group of volunteers drives around the city distributing care packages to those in need, with a focus on children and the elderly. VietHarvest’s donations of ready to eat pastries and other dry goods provide GLC Charity with a consistent and reliable source of food to distribute.
“Every Friday, our volunteers go out on their weekly run. We often need food for at least fifty vulnerable and disadvantaged people we meet on the street at night.
“Since having support from VietHarvest, our people in need have bigger dinners, with quality pastries, loaves of brown bread and other foods which they would have never had a chance to enjoy.
“We are also very happy with VietHarvest’s idea of collecting surplus food from hotels and restaurants, thus saving the environment from pollution which is damaging Hanoi so much.
“We take as much as possible to feed children and the elderly on the streets around Hanoi. Thank you VietHarvest.” (Mrs. Thuy, GLC Charity)
VietHarvest also partners with KOTO Training Centre, which provides hospitality training for at risk young people, giving those youth much needed skills to enter the job market. The vulnerable young follow a two-year program which includes housing and board. VietHarvest donates fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, and other rescued foods to KOTO to supplement the trainees’ meals.
“We receive two times a week a variety of foods such as cooked food, bread, cakes, meat, as well as fresh vegetables and fruits. All packaging, preservation, and delivery processes from VietHarvest always follow the regulations on hygiene and quality.
“With your support, meals for KOTO trainees are more nutritious and through the program, trainees understand the importance of avoiding food waste and greatly contribute to environmental protection, spreading love, not damage, to the environment.” (Mrs. Hanh, KOTO)
Thuong Thuong Handmade, a social enterprise providing vocational training and creating jobs for persons with disabilities, is another beneficiary of the program. Individuals live together at the training centre and learn how to create and sell handicrafts to earn a living. VietHarvest provides fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, and cooked meals to help the enterprise meet the nutritional needs of its participants.
VietHarvest’s food rescue effort tackles both hunger and food waste
And then there’s the question of food waste reduction. According to Project Drawdown (drawdown.org), reducing food waste is one of the most effective ways to take climate action.
Waste reduction is needed at all levels of the food supply chain. With up to 30-40% of Vietnam’s food produced either lost or wasted along the supply chain (Source: Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development), VietHarvest’s food rescue model uses data and technology to accurately measure carbon emissions diversion.
Roughly one third of all food produced worldwide is wasted. And the global economic, environmental, and social cost of food waste is estimated at US$2.6 trillion (drawdown.org). Close to one billion people in the world are going hungry. So, reducing both food waste and hunger are two challenges that urgently need to be addressed.
Donating surplus food for human consumption is an effective solution to reduce hunger and prevent food waste, and Action on Poverty is proud to work with VietHarvest in its mission to tackle these two societal emergencies.
Across all Action on Poverty projects we are doing everything we can to support disadvantaged communities, and to ensure they don’t slide backward into poverty.