Did you know that ThaiHarvest|SOS, a food rescue foundation, collects surplus food from all over Bangkok and delivers it where it is most needed—to the mouths (and bellies) of the hungry?
Established in 2016, ThaiHarvest|SOS is the result of two charities coming together. Scholars of Sustenance (SOS), was founded by Bo Holmgreen, who made a career in software and banking but wanted to dedicate his money and time to a more noble cause. After SOS launched in Thailand, they joined forces with the long-running OzHarvest, which was founded by Ronni Kahn in Sydney, and now operates all over Australia, as well as in New Zealand and the UK. For both of these organizations food waste is seen as a major problem.
ThaiHarvest|SOS collects quality surplus food—at no charge—from hotels, supermarkets, restaurants, cafes, and other commercial outlets, and delivers it at no cost to communities in need. In addition, excess food no longer fit for consumption is taken to be composted at local family farms. Food waste in landfills produces a large amount of methane—a more powerful greenhouse gas than even CO2—which contributes to global warming and climate change.
With only two trucks, and just a handful of supply points, the group is still able to capture 1.5 tons daily that would have simply ended up in landfills. To date the organization has proudly donated well over 120,000 meals (approximately 40 tons), while their compost programme has saved over 97 tons from landfills.
“We operate seven days a week,” explains Abigail Smith, the group’s Chief Operations Officer. “We run two programmes: compost and edible, so we always have two trucks on the road. One is a cooler truck, which collects from our ‘edible’ partners, and the other is a basic truck which collects plastic-free bins full of prep-scrap from hotels. In the morning we head out on pick-ups of food donations from multiple places in Bangkok, and the food collected is all checked, weighed, packaged appropriately, and then given out to the community or communities designated for the day. We focus on providing food for those who can truly cannot work. We work with orphanages, homes for the mentally disabled, refugees, and temples who take care of the sick”.
Anyone wishing to help out can do so in several ways. Firstly, if you think the company you work for has surplus food, see your head of CSR and tell them to contact ThaiHarvest|SOS, who will be happy to discuss working together. You could also donate money or goods, whether it be personal donations and corporate sponsorship. Finally, you can also donate your time, spent either riding along in the food truck—approx. 10am start and 4pm finish—or spending a morning on a sustainable farm where you’ll assist in a day of making nutrient rich soil from food waste.
“Our entire team here in Bangkok has varied backgrounds, from teaching to sales to environmental studies,” Abigail goes on to say. “I believe that bringing together a team from across multiple sectors is where we find strength, and has given us the ability to tackle food waste with multi-leveled programmes and campaigns.”