Approval of a bill requiring food establishments to donate or recycle excess food to reduce wastage and boost food security efforts of government has been endorsed by the House Special Committee on Food Security.
In a recent hearing, the House panel chaired by Cebu Rep. Wilfredo Caminero approved House Bill No. 7956 that consolidated 17 different bill proposing the redistribution or recycling of excess food from various food establishments, supermarkets, culinary schools, and food manufacturers.
Among the authors of the bill are Reps. Dale Malapitan (NP, Caloocan City); Ruth Mariano Hernandez (NPC, Laguna); Rolando Valeriano (PDP-Laban, Manila); Edward Vera Perez (NPC, Manila); Eric Martinez (NUP, Valenzuela City); Tyrone Agabas (PDP-Laban, Pangasinan); Yul Servo (NUP, Manila); and Caminero.
In his bill, Agabas sought to make it mandatory for food establishments to donate all surplus or left over food to charitable institutions so long as these are still edible and safe for human consumption based on the standards set by the National Nutrition Council and the Food and Drug Administration.
Under Agabas’ bill, all supermarkets, hotels, fastfood chains, and other food establishments participating in the food security activity shall be exempt from civil or criminal liability arising from the nature, age, packaging, or condition of apparently edible food donated in good faith by them.
On the other hand, Servo batted for the creation of an accreditation system under the Department of Social Welfare and Development where charitable institutions and foundations may apply in order to access the food donated by food establishments.
In their version of the proposed Zero Food Waste Act, Malapitan, Valeriano, Martinez, and Maceda proposed a household and local government unit waste reduction strategy that will help monitor the food waste and recycling activities of involved food establishments.
“This measure seeks to establish a National Zero Food Wastage for the proper disposal of food and to present to them the current condition of the various food waste systems being done in the country,” the Metro Manila lawmakers said.
Penalties for violation of the provisions of the proposed measure include imprisonment and fine of not more than P100,000.
In pushing for passage of his bill, Agabas underscored the value of “strengthening food security and in lowering the incidence of involuntary hunger in the country.”
Agabas cited a Social Weather Survey that found out that “9.5 percent or an estimated 2.3 million families experienced involuntary hunger at least once in the past three months. The survey was conducted from March 28 to 31, 2019.
Servo, an actor, noted that during a survey of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, chronic malnutrition among Filipino children aged 0-2 was at 26.2 percent, the highest in 10 years.
“Malnutritiion in the country has resulted in childhood stunting — the most prevalent kind of undernutrition which has permanent eh and development,” said Servo.