In the malls and restaurants of Jakarta, there is no shortage of food. Long menus offer food from around the world, and the wealthy can have it all for the choosing. What isn’t eaten simply gets thrown away.
But in the shadows of malls others struggle to scrape a meal together.
Now a not-for-profit initiative, Foodbank of Indonesia is creating a bridge between those worlds, collecting leftover food and distributing it to the needy.
KBR journalist Gilang Ramadhan visited Foodbank Indonesia’s kitchen and office in South Jakarta.
Five women, wearing gloves and aprons, are crowded into a modest kitchen. They’re busy cooking 50 meals from donations of leftover food.
This kitchen takes the waste from restaurants, malls and bakeries across the city, and prepares nutritious meals for the needy
Wida Septarina Wijayanti is the founder of Foodbank of Indonesia, and says the program is a link between the excess and poverty that sits side by side in the megacity.
“Sometimes we buy too much food, and it can’t all be eaten. Like during the fasting month, people prepare a lot of food to break the fast. But it turns out there are a lot of leftovers wasted.”
Wida continued, “It's in daily life too. If we look at the food industry, it’s similar. If you go malls, hotels or restaurants, a lot of food is wasted. On the other hand there are people who are really in need.”
Wida’s mission is to fight hunger, and improve the nutrition of children.
In the last two years, Foodbank of Indonesia has distributed more than 13 thousand meals.
Wida explains the project has depots across Jakarta, where hundreds of volunteers meet and deliver food to local residents.
“The community helps us identify who should receive meals. We do not go into the neighbourhood everyday, but we have volunteers in many places who can help us distribute food to the needy. Like children, elderly, and kids with HIV,” she said.
Not far from the Foodbank of Indonesia kitchen, Yadi Mulyadi, receives a meal for his ailing 70 year old aunt, Arni.
Yadi tells me that his job cleaning motorbikes isn’t enough to feed and support the family. So the program is really important for them.
“The program is good for elderly people. This is very helpful for us. Elderly people can register and get a lot of benefits, like nutritious food, milk and bread,” Yadi said.
“Hopefully this can be continued into the future and expanded all over Indonesia.”
After two years in Jakarta, the program has spread to the neighbouring cities of Subang and Bogor, West Java.
But it hasn’t always been an easy ride. Companies are sometimes reluctant to donate food, and local government have been known to block the donations, because of the lack of regulations.
“Why would a supermarket not want to give their leftover food to people?” Wida asked.
“Maybe they do not feel safe because there is no regulation. So now we are trying to open dialogue with the government, from local government to the national Parliament,” she explained. “How can we introduce regulations so that food can be collected legally and correctly, and then be checked?”
In the meantime, volunteer Tihanah Mashabie, says she’s proud to be part of Foodbank of Indonesia. When she’s not working as a school teacher, she’s preparing and distributing food here.
"I was interested in volunteering because the program is consistent with my ideals. I have a social conscious, but no money to give. Once I heard about Foodbank of Indonesia, I thought this is a good place to get involved with, I can support it with my time and energy.”