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Food-Based Beneficiaries Elevation Platform (FBBEP) to Promote Sustainable Food Securities among Communities In-Need in Bangkok

To build food banking platform based on beneficiary to solve social problems with exchange system that leads to sustainable food securities.

Photo of Apinya Amnuayskul
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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

Ms. Apinya Amnuayskul, Marketing & Fundraising Manager of Scholars of Sustenance Foundation (Thailand)

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small NGO (under 50 employees)

Website of Legally Registered Entity

www.scholarsofsustenance.org

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 3-10 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Bangkok, Thailand

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

Thailand

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand, covers 1,568.7 square kilometres.

What country is your selected Place located in?

Thailand

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

Bangkok is the heart of Thailand. The city is dense in population, approximately 9.7 million people in 2019. Since Thailand is facing with struggle in spreading out cities around the country, roughly there are 6,183 people per square kilometer squeezed living in Bangkok. It is very crowded. The cost of living in the city has raised while the earning has not changed much especially for labors and low-payment jobs. Moreover, the instability of Thailand's political and economic situations make it even harder to set up the long-term care plan to provide enough for underprivileged up to middle-class people. With such a high cost of living, many people struggle to earn enough to feed their families even themselves.  As a result, it is typical to see high rises next to slum houses with beggars all over the city. For us, as Scholars of Sustenance Foundation (SOS) Thailand team are all Thais, the more we work in the field of redistributing the food to the communities in-need, the more we hear the same pattern over and over. The big city social problems from refugee problems to teen pregnancy. The mixing pots with complex social problems that no one can solve by themselves. We have come to realize that by just delivering food to fill people's stomachs is not enough. The root causes of people with low food securities are the key to everything. With collaborations of competent charities, NGOs and social-worker networks in Bangkok, we have enough resources to make a real change to our home town and possibly expansions to other parts of Thailand. Lastly, as an experienced food rescue foundation, we have extensive resources who can provide surplus food to form a city's scale food bank. This means that we will not only prevent those food from going to the landfills, but also utilize surplus food as rewards that motivate people to improve their lives for good which leads to sustainable food securities.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

Thailand is a land of diversity, and Bangkok is the embodiment of that word in the sense of people, culture, and food. For decades, Thai society interaction hastily shifts from Political event and Superstition as if the entire well-being and economy depend on it. Thailand has the axe-shaped with four different regions, or as we call it the golden axe. The climate is different in each region. It can be cool and windy in the northern region while it can be hot and dry in the Northeastern region. In the south, the climate is can be unpredictable from the monsoon, it can either be sunshine or a storm on the shore. In the middle region, it is fertile lands; it fits for agriculture and industrial and is the location of Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand.

Our tradition bases heavily in our major religion: Buddhism, the tradition of Royal Monarchy, and Thai nationalism. Thai Food is one of the most renowned foods on Earth. It contains four distinct tastes; salty, sweet, sour, and spicy. Every Thai dish is lush in the color of spices and herbs. In Bangkok, the world-renown, Kitchen of the World, we have more than enough food to satisfy everyone.

Thai society is living under the rule of law and the nationalism with a mixture of modernization and religious practice. Mainly, from the perspective of the cultural tradition, it is the melting pot of culture, there is an amalgamation of Hinduism, Buddhism, Chinese belief, and other more superstitions. Thai language is our official language while English and Chinese come as second and third which not speaking much as the majority of Bangkokians cannot properly communicate in English. What makes Bangkok unique is its unique contrast between urban and rural life. There are numerous large pristine buildings all around Bangkok while looking another way there are also beautiful temples and tourist spots. If you glance to the right or left sides of the mentioned buildings, you can see an old and run-down house, the empty spaces, and the unkempt space of community, and it is the same with another district in Bangkok. The gap between the rich and poor is very high in Thailand especially in Bangkok, but the sight of beautiful condominium resides close to the low-income community. In many cases, they live beside each other.

In the business sector and agriculture, Bangkok is no longer the agricultural area, there are only a few farms and crops left in the capitals, most of the area made for tourists, residence, and shopping malls. Mostly the dominant crop remains as rice and durian farms while there is the development of urban farming culture. Currently, Thai people are under the risk of cardiovascular, diabetes and obesity due to the imbalance of nutritional intake from food. The hope of people here is starting to shape up in the form of the newer generation with new social norms and practices that go against the ineffective and demoralized system in the past.

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)

1568

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?

9700000

Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Currently, there were multiple layers which challenges the implementation of our platform. As Thailand still struggling with waste management, landfills nearby residents are scattered around Bangkok. The surrounding affected locals’ way of life as peri-urban interface. In these communities, the residents tend to have poor standard of living with low earnings. Some of them choose cooked raw rice in cooking oil instead of making steam rice due to lacking clean water. It was no surprise to learn many having high blood pressure and in poor health condition. Most locals were comfortable with eating cheap meals such as instant noodle costed only 0.2 USD while average nutritional balance meal costs 1.67 USD per meal. They were less likely to invest their money on healthy food if they barely had enough to feed themselves. Our system was based on food rescue model. Majority of rescued food came from international buffet and they did not match with food culture of Thais and others in low-income communities.

As Thailand is moving away from traditional agriculture and many businesses are being disrupted by advance technology or startups, it is slowly replacing labor intensive jobs of many in the communities. The international competition also has effects on this matter. Since Thailand is losing exporting business, factories are closing down and costing a lot of labor’s jobs. High-level education to prepare economic changes had not covered majority of low-income communities. However, it had always been a challenge for local residents to secure basic needs, much less education for their children’s future. Currently, there is no government policy to support secured food system in Thailand.

In fact, there was little coordination between organizations, both government and private. Without a system in place to coordinate research groups, by 2050 there will be endless number of researches wasting their time alongside many upset communities. The above same challenges will worsen by 2050 due to the rising sea level while warmer climates may lead lower crop yields to feed people, hence possibly less food supply and higher price to essential nutritional food. If rising sea level leads to land loss, we are facing population becoming more crowded in less available space. It is certain that low income communities are vulnerable to changes in environment, even there should be further improvement on basic food availability, not necessarily nutritional types, due to the emerging food technologies and food banks in Thailand.

While the gap in food culture should lessen with more mixing of food culture worldwide. However, nutritional balance meals may become more expensive due to higher cost on transports (fuel) and labors (human resources). In term of economic and technology, the situation of non-labor business and human layoffs will would only worsen in 2050 if Thailand fails to bring forth systematic development to prepare locals for potential occupations in the future.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

Food has its purpose and the overproduced should not be wasted. Bangkok's food waste is estimated around 215,000 tons/month. Those potentially could be rescued to be 9 million of meals/month for the community in-need which is worth approximately 225 million Baht to provide same amount of food. Our intention is to make the most out of it. Not just to prevent it from going to the landfills and causes environmental problems, but to treasure the excess food as a motivational tool towards sustainable food securities and happier/healthier lives. Bangkok has more than enough resources to make this happen: infrastructures, extensive surplus food resources and competencies. Yet, no one volunteer to fix this broken system. Therefore we envision to extend the operation of food banking system by introducing "Food-Based Beneficiaries Elevation Platform (FBBEP) to Promote Sustainable Food Securities among Communities In-Need in Bangkok". For example, we could start from motivating kids to stay in schools by registering with SOS through local school programs for surplus food takeaways for their families. We could even motivate adults to enroll for higher education. In the future, they would have a better chance to earn more with higher education, and improve the condition of food securities for their families. There are definitely several milestones before being able to launch this exchange system such as community research, data collection, data analysis and possibly application or database programming. However, we know this will be a worthwhile investment to relieve the many of Bangkok's social issues that are very challenging to tackle in long term.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

The vision is to go beyond being a food banking to fight against hunger and preventing good edible food from going the landfills due to Thailand’s poor waste management system and policies. With application of “Food-Based Beneficiaries Elevation Platform” we will be elevating the lives of beneficiaries to promote sustainable food security for their families and themselves. Hopefully this could help breaking the circle of typical issues that lead to poverty. We all know the 4 minimum-level necessities of living which are air, food, water and shelter, therefore we are certain that food has enough value to build a trade system around it. As stated that there are potentially 9 millions of meals/month (225 millions Baht worth of meal) could be rescued from the whole Bangkok food supply-chain to fight against hunger among people in need living in the low-income communities around Bangkok, what if we could build up more economic value based upon their monetary worth? By having this platform, what if we have 1,000 children enrolling as SOS beneficiaries as an exchange of staying with commitment to do well in schools in return they will earn food enough to feed families? That could possibly worth at least 15 million Baht/month (15,000 Baht present salary based) as a minimum payroll once they all graduate from colleges. Comparing with high chances of those unfortunate children missing opportunity to go to schools because their parents could not earn enough to feed their families, they could end up becoming child labors, baggers, drug dealers or prostitutes. The future of people in the low-income communities could be changed more or less depending on their commitment. Nonetheless, this platform is a powerful tool to collect data, to keep track of, to evaluate the efforts and to make improvements with predictable and repeatable solutions.

As our foundation operating as a business operation and measurable results or impacts has been implemented since the beginning. We have tracked on environmental impact: amount of preventing food waste from going to the landfills and Carbon Dioxide Emission to the atmosphere by weighing everything and simple calculation. However, to measure social impacts is rather difficult as there are many aspects to it. The Food-Based Beneficiaries Elevation Platform that we hope to develop would help us overcome the basic challenge of systematic data collection and integration. By categorizing the issues of each registered beneficiary, we would gain knowledge of major individual root causes to poverty; similarity to doctor diagnostic chart to suggest the best treatments for the patient symptoms. Of course, the system may not be the total cure but at least we can try to alleviate their difficulties or set out to build the better future for them. In conclusion, we hope to measure and keep track of the key success indicators food redistribution program on social impacts more than merely number of meals and nutrition delivered to the people in need.

“Food is the best medicine”. On the health perspective, even system may not directly the cure to sickness; the more suitable nutritional balance for individuals, the better health condition they could be. As stated in the challenges of this system, the weakness to the existing operation is that we do not have the data of which food being taken by whom at what amount. Also, the people living in low-income communities do not concern about health much, as they are more worry about surviving day-to-day basis. Providing nutritional education will not have much effects. What we could do for them is delivery the nutrition balance food source for them as much as possible. Otherwise, we might just end up deliver too much sugar and low-fiber carbohydrate to recipients with high risks of diabetes, high blood pressure or obesity. There might be elders who have no choice but to take hard bread or chewy cook meat. Or, we could accidentally delivery pork meals to the vegetarians or Islamic families which is religious and cultural issues. Therefore, by having the right set of data, we will be able to improve their existing health conditions and prevent severe/life threatening health condition.

This system alone is not the solution. Collaboration from both charitable and non-charitable experts who provide solutions to the root causes of poverty must be included in the platform. Another way of putting this is they are like a medicine or specialty doctors. Our job is to add extensive list of institutions, experts, volunteers, businesses, and social workers to the platform. Then, match them with to the signed-up beneficiaries based on the problems they are facing starting from attacking their most challenge problem. We will watch the overall progress and keep track of each milestone.

There are also statistics of beneficiaries missing on many aspects which would be beneficial to push new supportive policies forward to improve on food waste and food banking management in Thailand. Through this system, we hope to have solid data, provable, and traceable information to motivate government, associations and businesses to make changes in food production and waste management. So far, there are very little we know how much food we waste in the whole food supply chain, and how much we could use them to feed people in need and help improving their lives. The information and how they dispose those food still questionable to those outside their industries. Once we have the right policies for these matters, we could make extensive impacts on preventing food waste and Carbon Dioxide Emission. What we could elevate from this is to use the data of food waste from donor-side and beneficiary-side is to create a new food-waste related business model that possibly providing the labor-intensive work positions for the people, who may lose jobs as economic and technology emerges. As locals, we realize that we cannot rely on government jobs creation much as they tend to move forward service sector, construction sector and technology. Even the agricultural sector is significant to the survival of humanity, our government mostly focus on the commercial side such as exporting, rice trade, subsidiary program and commercial plantation. The truth is food waste also has economic value. If only that we start food waste separation, perhaps with the help of people in low income communities, people could start to make a living on trading food waste; not just living next to the landfills full of food waste. However, all must start with showing provable numbers to the influential people to make all of above movement happen.

The next step of this system could be involved with the old-world concept of food trade such as trading eggs for rice or even trading recyclable trash for vegetables. We know that people in the low-income communities (Thais) are mostly relocated from different provinces. Some of them own fields and farms but still do not earn enough to feed their families. They, then, likely moved from suburban to Bangkok for the better opportunities but many failed and ended up living in poor conditions instead. So, we do hope the people who enroll on our platform will improve their lives as intended. Beyond that, we would like to persuade them to join the circular economy on the more extensive version of our food system by trading the surplus food from farms with others and become a sustainable economy in long term. And eventually, we hope they would understand the sustainable economy philosophy and see the value of happy quality life in their birth places enough to leave the poor-quality of city life behind for good.

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Team

Hi Apinya Amnuayskul 

Welcome to the Food Vision Prize community!

For the last hours before the deadline, make sure you have reviewed your final submission through the Pocket Guide to support you through the final hours of wrapping up your submission. This will give you the most important bullet points to keep in mind to successfully submit your Vision.
Here is the link to the pocket guide: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1o8WGMus6-V8GywWdlNwmCpk7I1fMVzcQ/view

Look forward to seeing your submission finalised by 31st January, 5:00 pm EST :)

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