KIND­NESS ONE CAN CON­SUME

A look at the food banks in Shang­hai which were set up by Shang­hai Oa­sis Eco­log­i­cal Con­ser­va­tion and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Cen­ter, and the sup­port they have been re­ceiv­ing from en­ter­prises for­eign and do­mes­tic

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI -

“The ba­sic food pack­age is worth around 120 yuan and it in­cludes rice, cook­ing oil and milk pow­der. We’ll also in­clude in­fant for­mula if there’s a baby be­low the age of 3 in the fam­ily, and some snacks and milk if there’s a child be­tween the ages of 4 and 18. We’ll ad­just the aid pack­age if it fails to meet their core needs,” said Zhang, who added that vol­un­teers reg­u­larly com­mu­ni­cate with fam­i­lies to find out if they have re­ceived the food and if the aid pro­vided is suf­fi­cient.

Do­mes­tic and for­eign sup­port for the food banks have been grow­ing steadily. In 2015, the food banks were backed by 42 donors, up from 29 a year be­fore. French re­tail mag­net Car­refour joined as a sup­plier in 2015 and Li Yun­tao, public af­fairs man­ager for Car­refour East China, said that the com­pany has do­nated 14 tons of food to the net­work in the past two years.

Song Zhengyuan, brand­ing head of ucaiyuan.com, an e-com­merce plat­form by Shang­hai-based dairy pro­ducer Bright Dairy and Food Co Ltd, said the com­pany has since 2015 been con­tribut­ing to the food bank in Pu­tuo dis­trict. Over at the food bank in Changn­ing dis­trict, the bread is sup­plied by lo­cal chain bak­ery Re­lax Xin­qiao.

“We have vol­un­teers go­ing to this bak­ery’s four out­lets be­fore they close ev­ery evening to col­lect and dis­trib­ute the do­nated bread to im­pov­er­ished fam­i­lies in the neigh­bor­hood. It’s an at­tempt to make the best use of lo­cal re­sources in our sys­tem,” Zhang said.

Fruit­day.com, a Chi­nese fruit e-com­merce plat­form, re­cently be­came a part of the ini­tia­tive as well. Song Wen­ming, the com­pany’s public re­la­tions di­rec­tor, said that Fruit­day.com has ar­ranged to de­liver fruits to the banks ev­ery day as part of their de­liv­ery rou­tines.

“I be­lieve we should be pro­mot­ing this public wel­fare project to more peo­ple and en­ter­prises to let them know that there is a way to deal with food that they are about to aban­don. As far as I know, the wastage rate of phys­i­cal fruit stores is around 40 per­cent,” he said.

In a bid to en­sure food safety, the food bank in Shang­hai cur­rently only col­lects food that are still rel­a­tively fresh, as com­pared to most food banks around the world which col­lect food items that are close to their “best be­fore” dates. Also, in­di­vid­ual do­na­tions are not ac­cepted be­cause of food safety con­cerns.

While this has en­sured that the food banks have not re­ceived a sin­gle com­plaint re­gard­ing food safety, Li Bing, founder of Shang­hai Oa­sis Eco­log­i­cal Con­ser­va­tion and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Cen­ter, said that it can also in turn dis­cour­age busi­nesses from com­ing for­ward as it trans­lates into a loss of prof­its.

Li added that while food prod­ucts that are past their “best be­fore” dates can­not be sold in many coun­tries, they are still gen­er­ally safe to con­sume within a pe­riod that is de­fined by half the du­ra­tion of the pro­duc­tion date to the “best be­fore” date.

Li is also hop­ing that the food safety signs used in the coun­try can be in line with in­ter­na­tional con­ven­tions, say­ing: “If China’s reg­u­la­tions in this area are re­vised, the pol­icy of food banks can also be im­proved.”

Chen Xinghua, ac­count man­ager of Yi­hai Kerry Kel­logg Foods (Shang­hai) Co Ltd, which has do­nated thou­sands of boxes of ce­real to the food banks in the past year, said that the com­pany usu­ally chooses to do­nate prod­ucts that are six months ahead of their “best be­fore” dates.

“The most im­por­tant thing we must en­sure is safety. If we pro­vide some prod­ucts that are about to ex­pire to the food bank, there may be pos­si­bil­ity of trans­fer­ring the risk to the con­sumers,” Chen said.

ERQIANG / CHINA DAILY PHO­TOS BY GAO

The "sol­i­dar­ity fridge" in the com­mu­nity cen­ter in Pu­tuo dis­trict has been well re­ceived. Its con­tents are al­most al­ways cleared out be­fore noon ev­ery day.

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