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Lawmakers propose food banking legislation to help disadvantaged

2012/05/03 16:04:09

Taipei, May 3 (CNA) Several lawmakers have proposed writing food banks into law to better help the disadvantaged while reducing waste of food and daily necessities, a legislator said Thursday, urging greater government efforts to set up a national-level food banking system.

Opposition Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lin Chia-lung said Taiwan should establish a better network of social assistance and security to help those in need and address the problem of hunger.

Citing official statistics, Lin said Taiwanese people wasted 2.75 million tons of food in 2010, which could be enough to feed disadvantaged families in the country for 20 years.

Food banks serve as an effective way to give donated food and other daily necessities to people in need, Lin said at a news conference, adding that avoiding waste of resources is another core value of food banking.

Lin has proposed draft amendments to the Public Assistance Act, which would lay a legal foundation for food banks to better regulate the initiatives and also push the government to set up a management system to integrate information on food banks around the country.

“Accurate and immediate information is very important,”Lin said.

His proposal has been endorsed by more than a dozen lawmakers across party lines.

Also at the news conference was Craig Nemitz, director of Field Services of the Chicago-based Global FoodBanking Network, who is in Taiwan to visit local food banks and give advice on how to create a better food banking system.

Nemitz told CNA that he has met many wonderful motivated people, which“is a very positive sign.”

However, he pointed out that in Taiwan many small organizations call themselves food banks. Such a situation is challenging, as there is no large central base to receive donations, he said.

“In the international model, a food bank is a large warehouse” that distributes food donations to smaller organizations, he added.

Nemitz was also here to observe the situation in Taiwan to decide whether it is qualified to join the Global FoodBanking Network, which will help bring in international resources for food banking services, said Philip Chen, executive of the Christ Food Bank Taiwan based in Taichung.

Chen told CNA that before the government sets up a national-level system to manage food banking services, his organization is serving as a platform for food banking information.

Most existing food banks in Taiwan now distribute food donated by the public, Chen said, admitting however that the results are not satisfying.

"This could be related to the lack of a law”governing issues related to food banking, he said.

The Global FoodBanking Network develops and supports food banks in more than 20 countries, including Australia, Japan, South Korea and the United Kingdom.

(By Elaine Hou)