As the world population soars from over 7 Billion today and with estimates topping 9 Billion by 2015, drastic measures must be undertaken now to secure a sustainable future. One billion people today suffer from chronic hunger and food insecurity.  At the same time, one-third of all food produced is lost or wasted. This is unacceptable.

Climate change is linked to food security. Witness the famine and draught in the dry lands of Africa: Sahel, Somalia, and the Ogaden, which captured the headlines through most of last year. To feed the masses and achieve the Zero Hunger Challenge posed by the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, there must be sustainable agriculture and water security. Governments, business, and civil society organizations must implement measures to ensure a greener, more sustainable future toward a hunger-free world.

Hunger is not just endemic to developing regions of the world. According to the US Department of Agriculture, (USDA) 17 million US households are food insecure. 16 million US kids, roughly one in five, do not have enough food to eat and/or are not eating healthy.  This is unacceptable.

However, one US company PANERA BREAD with its PANERA CARES COMMUNITY CAFES, has come to the table giving back to the community as its shared responsibility. http://paneracares.org/

Ron Shaich is the Founder Chairman & Co-CEO of Panera Bread. In its Mission Statement: “Panera Cares® community cafes exist to feed each and every person who walks through our doors with dignity regardless of their means.” In the cafes, there are no prices or cash registers, only suggested donation levels and bins.  Its goal goes further – to raise the level of awareness about food insecurity in the United States.

Coincidentally, one day following the announcement of the new campaign launched by the United Nations and its partners, “Think, Eat, Save, Reduce Your Footprint,” to eliminate food waste, financial news channels announced the opening of the fifth Panera Cares in Boston, Massachusetts. The four other non-profit locations are in St. Louis, Missouri; Dearborn, Michigan; Portland, Oregon; and Chicago, Illinois.  Ron Shaich is a global citizen practicing green business and is one restaurateur practicing the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Food & Agriculture Oranization (FAO) campaign initiatives.

UN News Centre Source

Launched by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and partners, the campaign – ‘Think, Eat, Save. Reduce Your Foodprint’ – seeks to accelerate action to eliminate wasteful practices and help countries share successful initiatives on these issues. It specifically targets food wasted by consumers, retailers and the hospitality industry. http://www.thinkeatsave.org/

“In a world of seven billion people, set to grow to nine billion by 2050, wasting food makes no sense – economically, environmentally and ethically,” said UNEP’s Executive Director, Achim Steiner. “To bring about the vision of a truly sustainable world, we need a transformation in the way we produce and consume our natural resources.”

About one-third of all food produced globally, worth around $1 trillion, gets lost or wasted in food production and consumption systems, according to FAO. Food loss occurs mostly at the production stages – harvesting, processing and distribution – while food waste typically takes place at the retailer and consumer end of the food supply chain.

Roughly 95 per cent of food loss and waste in developing countries are due to unintentional losses at early stages of the food supply chain as a result of limitations in harvesting techniques, storage, packaging and marketing systems.

In the developed world, however, food waste occurs because consumers are quick to throw away food due to over-buying, inappropriate storage, and preparing meals that are too large, while food manufacturers are retailers produce waste because of inefficient practices, confusion over date labels and quality standards that overemphasize appearance.

“In industrialized regions, almost half of the total food squandered, around 300 million tons annually, occurs because producers, retailers and consumers discard food that is still fit for consumption,” said FAO’s Director-General, José Graziano da Silva. “This is more than the total net food production of Sub-Saharan Africa, and would be sufficient to feed the estimated 870 million people hungry in the world.”

“If we can help food producers to reduce losses through better harvesting, processing, storage, transport and marketing methods, and combine this with profound and lasting changes in the way people consume food, then we can have a healthier and hunger-free world,” Mr. da Silva added.

Susan Sacirbey

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