Launched in early 2016, Thai Harvest|SOS (www.thaiharvestsos.org) is a foundation that rescues surplus food from restaurants, hotels, grocery stores and events that would otherwise go to waste. The free service, a collaboration with Australian organization OzHarvest, picks up donations of edible food and delivers meals to those in need. We speak to Andreanna “Darra” Christensen, 24, the Thai-American who’s running the show over here, about how its community fridge project works and its future fundraising events.
Where did the idea come from?
Bo Holmgreen, a Danish man with a background in software engineering and banking. Though based in the US, he would frequently travel to Thailand and stay at five-star hotels, where he saw all the food that would be thrown away at the end of the day. At the time, Abigail Smith [now Thai Harvest|SOS Chief Operations Officer] was working at the hotel he was staying at. She liked the idea and came on board with him. Smith is the one who set up everything.
How do you collect and distribute the food?
At first, it was very difficult for us to get people to donate; they were afraid that their food might cause someone to become ill so we had to set up meeting after meeting. But now people are calling us to collect their food. We pick it up with our truck, take it back to our kitchen at the office where a hygienist works to clean it or cut out any of the bad bits. We are very careful with the food. So far we haven’t had anyone complain about getting sick. We deliver the food to a variety of foundations. The inedible stuff, like fruit peel and damaged vegetables, goes to farms all over Bangkok for composting.
Who are you currently working with?
We collect food from several big hotels, restaurants, cafes, places like Holey Bakery and Gallery Pizza, and various embassies. Tesco is one of our biggest donors. Also, if your company or organization has a big party, you can call us a few days in advance and we will be ready to pick up your leftovers.
Where does the food go to?
Urban refugee camps, elderly homes, orphanages like the Mercy Centre or Baan Rajawadee. We also teach people there about nutrition and provide them with recipes.
Tell us about your community fridge project.
We set up our first fridge at The Commons mall, which allows the tenants to donate their leftover food for those in need. We even provide the Tupperware. We trained the restaurants and shops on what kind of food can be donated: for example, we don’t accept fish or certain dairy products as they go bad so quickly. We also just launched another fridge at River City mall.
What’s next step for the foundation?
Fundraising. We want to expand and in order to make that happen we need funding. So we are hosting an event at Whiteline on Sep 29, which follows a fundraising event we held at Blaq Lyte recently. We will also make an appearance at Wonderfruit in Dec.
You can contact Thai Harvest|SOS on 096-808-8008 or firstname.lastname@example.org