Starting a Food Waste Revolution: Thai Harvest SOS

27 March 2018, Tanya Perdikou

Meet the charity starting a food waste revolution in Bangkok

Bangkok’s bins are bulging with wasted food. On average, each Thai person throws away more than a kilo of rubbish every single day, and more than 60% of it is food.

And it’s not just individuals sending good food to landfill. Whilst travelling for work, Danish businessman Bo Holmgreen noticed how much food was being wasted by hotels in Thailand. His experiences inspired the foundation of Scholars of Sustenance (SOS), a grassroots, Bangkok-based charity that transforms surplus food into wholesome meals for the hungry, nutrient-rich compost and well-stocked fridges for the community.

As well as rescuing food from businesses and providing it to those in need, Scholars of Sustenance (also known as Thai Harvest|SOS following a merger with OzHarvest) has forged links with more than 20 compost farms who recycle inedible food and scraps. The long term goal is for community recipients to grow veg and sell them back to hotel donors. They’ve also set up community fridges at The Commons to provide local people in need with a free food resource.

Bruce Chen, Community Relations Coordinator for Scholars of Sustenance, said:

“As food insecurity becomes increasingly problematic in Thailand, Scholars of Sustenance hopes to offset the cost for communities who cannot work. We provide the logistics, labour, and financial support to facilitate the transfer of food to the most suitable destination. Good, edible food is rescued and shared with communities in need while food scraps are taken to composting farms that create nutrient-rich soil.” 

Passing it on

Educating the next generation about food waste is a huge priority for the charity, for example through running composting workshops. Bruce continues:

“Most young people we meet are very keen on learning more about how to ensure that they leave a smaller footprint on the environment. Kids are more than excited to tell their parents and teachers more about composting or reducing food waste in general. We were so surprised at how many students, from schools all around the city, reached out to us before their teachers or parents did.”

Growing the movement

Since it was founded in 2016, the charity has partnered with 18 food donors, from luxury hotels like The Anantara, to Tesco Lotus. They work with 20 recipient charities including old people’s homes and orphanages like the Mercy Centre. They’ve delivered an amazing 48,000 meals, rescuing 16,000kg of food and creating 77 tons of compost. All with the help of 45 dedicated volunteers.

How you can help

If you’re looking to boost the sustainability credentials of your family there are many ways to get involved with the work of Scholars of Sustenance:

  • Attend one of their composting workshops for adults and children. Details of upcoming events can be found on the Scholars of Sustenance Facebook page.
  • Get composting at home with the kids – our handy guide will help you get set up
  • The charity is always looking for help with fundraising and every bit counts! For each 10 baht spent, they’re able to donate a meal to someone in need.
  • Volunteer: due to the nature of their work, they only accept adult volunteers currently. Volunteers have the opportunity to join them on a farm or food run, or lend a helping hand at events.

Email info@scholarsofsustenance.org or send a message on Facebook if you’re looking to fundraise, donate or volunteer.

Thai Harvest_SOS

Photo Credit: Scholars of Sustenance

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