FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

FAO–Food Bank convoy delivers food to those in need

A long line of trucks today passed through the historic centre of Budapest carrying 33 tonnes of food donated by Hungarian and international food producers and retailers to support thousands of people in need.

The event, carried out to mark World Food Day, was organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Hungarian Food Bank Association for the sixteenth consecutive year.

As well as providing some tangible support, the event aimed to raise awareness around this year’s theme – more sustainability through food-systems transformation by, among other approaches, reducing food loss and waste. Millions of people globally are hungry or undernourished, with many more relying on food banks or emergency food aid, while large quantities of food go to waste every day.

The FAO–Food Bank food-donation convoy made a short stop at Heroes’ Square, where representatives of both organizations, together with the Hungarian Food Safety Office’s deputy director, outlined the current food-systems challenges and proposed potential solutions.

“The evidence is there for all to see – current patterns of food production and consumption contribute significantly to climate change and still cannot ensure nutritious diets for all,” said Vladimir Rakhmanin, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Europe and Central Asia. “Our food systems need to be transformed to reduce inequalities, both globally and at national level, and to be able to sustain 10 billion people by 2050.”

“Almost one third of the food produced globally is wasted; food producers, processors, retailers, and households are all playing a role in this,” highlighted Szilvia Szabo, Managing Director of the Hungarian Food Bank Association. “Every year, the Food Bank Association saves around 8 000 tonnes of leftover food from stores and food producers to then distribute it among the needy. The food waste generated by households, however, can only be reduced through wide collaboration, awareness-raising and a change in public perceptions.”

Collaboration is key for this shift to happen and everyone has a role to play – governments through changing policies, the private sector through transforming business models, and the general public by evolving our mindsets and behaviour. The World Food Day convoy is a good example of joint action across different sectors to fight hunger and malnutrition.

The main obstacle for sustainable consumption is food waste,” stated Ferenc Helik, Deputy Director of the Hungarian Food Safety Office. "In Hungary alone, about 600 000 tonnes of food is thrown away every year. The Ministry of Agriculture and the Food Safety Office are working on reducing that number, and raising awareness among consumers in order to cut the amount of food waste by half by 2030. This can only be achieved collectively."

Consumers can also become part of the change. The food we choose and the way we prepare, cook, store, and dispose of it makes everyone an active participant in the agrifood system. Everyone can influence the market by choosing nutritious and environmentally and socially responsible products, or by buying locally grown and seasonal food, and by reading up on the environmental and social impact of the products we consume. Additionally, household-generated food waste can be better managed through small steps, such as monitoring the expiry dates on our food items, writing shopping lists, careful selection of storage bins and containers, and freezing leftover food instead of throwing it away.

The companies joining the 2021 food convoy are partners of the Hungarian Food Bank Association: ALDI Magyarország Élelmiszer Bt., Auchan Retail Magyarország, Bio-Fungi Kft. ChefGomba, Chef Market Zrt., Coca-Cola HBC Magyarország Kft., Danone Magyarország Kft., Gyermelyi Zrt., Kifli.hu, KOMETA 99 Zrt., Metro Kereskedelmi Kft., Nestlé Hungária Kft., Numil Hungary Tápszerkereskedelmi Kft., Pek-Snack Kft., Penny Market Magyarország, a Pick Szeged Zrt. and Sole-Mizo Zrt. as part of the Bonafarm Csoport, Rauch Hungária Kft., Shell Hungary Zrt. and its partner HAVI Logistics Kft., Tesco-Globál Áruházak Zrt.

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World Food Day

Collective action across 150 countries is what makes World Food Day (16 October) one of the most celebrated days in the United Nations calendar. Hundreds of events and outreach activities promote worldwide awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger and for the need to ensure healthy diets for all. This year’s theme, ‘Our actions are our future’, urges everyone to look into the future we need to build together.

15 October 2021, Budapest, Hungary