Each year, enough food is produced worldwide to meet the needs of our global population, yet a third of excess food still ends up in landfills. Scholars of Sustenance, the first food rescue foundation in Thailand and a Ford Fund partner, is ensuring more access to healthy meals while also lessening the environmental impact of food waste.
"With [Ford Fund's] initial grant, we set up a community kitchen that brings in surplus food right at the ground floor of the FREC (Ford Resource and Engagement Center) in Bangkok," shared James Leyson, Director of Global Impact and Operations at Scholars of Sustenance. "In this kitchen, we were able to learn from each other by creating new dishes from surplus foods."
Scholars of Sustenance joined the Bangkok FREC in 2018 as a core partner and helped to identify an impactful location in the Nang Loeng area and recruit additional local NGO partners, establishing a friendly community space. During the pandemic, Scholars of Sustenance began exploring new, safer methods for rescuing staple food items with traditionally high volume and value, such as rice.
The team partners with many players in the food industry — like supermarkets, hotels, restaurants and farms, to rescue surplus food using refrigerated trucks. Every single day, Scholars of Sustenance gives out healthy meals to communities in need, including the elderly, orphanages, those with disabilities and migrant workers.
Cooked by the Community, for the Community
Since partnering with the Ford Fund, Scholars of Sustenance has served nearly 7,000 meals per month out of the FREC community kitchen in Bangkok and has expanded their efforts to provide warm cooked meals to elderly individuals and preschoolers living nearby the center.
"Our most striking impact has been seeing individuals who were once recipients of community aid now becoming givers themselves," James explained. "Elderly volunteers reunite with old friends and newcomers, all eager to lend a hand in their community." James shared that even while the FREC kitchen and building were closed during the pandemic, community volunteers regularly asked when they could cook together again.
Since kicking off in 2016, Scholars of Sustenance has rescued more than 7,000 tons of surplus food, served over 30 million meals and spread that goodness to more than 3,200 communities across 47 provinces in Thailand. To support this Ford Fund community partner, visit Scholars of Sustenance to learn more, donate, and discover volunteer opportunities across Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.