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From Waste To Plate: 7 Organisations On A Mission To Rescue Food to Alleviate Hunger 

Food waste is a growing issue in many countries, including Malaysia. And yet this excess seems to run counter to growing hunger issues among lower-income groups.

According to a study by the United Nations, in 2019, an estimated 690 million people go to bed hungry each night. And due to the pandemic, an estimated 83 to 132 million more people may go hungry[1].

In Kuala Lumpur, a 2018 UNICEF Malaysia study reported that one in 10 children living in poverty had less than three meals a day. And research from 2016 showed that Malaysia produces 38,000 tonnes of waste, with nearly half being food waste[1].

Added to the problem is that with the financial shortages and increasing produce prices, 53% of Malaysian B40s have reduced their food intake. They have spent less on food consumption and much-required nutrition such as protein-packed meals and vitamin-enriched fruits and vegetables that we may have taken for granted[2].

This, together with the increasing consumption of cheap energy-rich meals with a longer shelf life such as instant noodles, processed foods or eggs, has led to health problems among the B40 such as stunting and obesity[3].

With the amount of food waste produced in Malaysia, many individuals have realised that this excess food can instead be redirected from the landfill to those in need of it.

These individuals and organisations have made it their goal to ensure that excess food does not end up in waste. Instead, it ends up on the tables of the needy.

#1: What a Waste

I think there’s been a lack of respect towards food…We have got to be more responsible when we order food, when we buy food, when we cook food. Let’s not overdo it, let’s do it in moderation. – Alvin Chen, co-founder of What a Waste

What a Waste (WaW) was founded by husband-and-wife duo Alvin and Angela Chen in 2018 to reduce food waste, poverty and hunger. Their goal: to bring regular free meals into the lives of these households[1].

WaW collects excess or surplus food or foodstuffs from events, households, retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers and F&B outlets. These foods range from dry foods such as cereals, milk powder, biscuits and rice to perishable foods such as vegetables, meat and ready-to-eat foods. 

Most of these foods are unsold or nearing their expiration date. They then deliver the food directly to communities or individual families in need of food. Currently, WaW serves more than 10,000 families in Subang Jaya and beyond including rural areas.

If you want to donate some food to WaW’s cause, here’s the address for the WaW drop-off/transit point:

Address: 29, Jalan ss 18/2a, 47500 Subang Jaya


#2: Food Aid Foundation

Started in 2013, the Food Aid Foundation is an NGO and food bank in Kuala Lumpur. It collects unused or unwanted food from manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, retailers, companies or people. This food will then be distributed to charitable/welfare homes, volunteer welfare organisations, refugee communities, poor families, destitute and soup kitchens.

Food Aid has partnered with wholesalers including grocery stores like Tesco, Giant, and Aeon Big. In addition, it has partnered with hotels like Hilton Hotel PJ and Pullman Hotels And Resorts.

Last year, Food Aid collected 1,410,962 kg of unused food and distributed 3,929,471 meals for a total value of RM 23,576,826.

Food Aid works on a skeleton crew with volunteers playing a vital role in their operations. If you’re interested in volunteering or just want to donate, contact them here.

Phone number: +603 9226 5500


#3: Green Hero

Green Hero team. Source: Vulcan Post

Green Hero (previously known as Food Plus Life) in 2017 as an online platform where F&B businesses can donate unsold, edible food, which will then be resold at discounted prices to customers on a budget, ensuring that the food does not needlessly end up in waste.

Their stores include Green Hero Sardines; working together with Vega, Green Hero collects sardines cans about to reach their best-before date. Green Hero also collects soon-expired teriyaki sauce and other seasonings and resells them as Green Hero Japanese Sauce.

And for Penangites, there is PG Bakery #1 in George Town. This bakery offers daily baked buns at a discounted price to save on their last call at 6pm.

If you’re interested in volunteering or donating to help their cause, you can sign up here, or email them about potential partnerships.


#4: Pasar Grub

Source: Pasar Grub

Formerly known as Grub Cycle, Pasar Grub sells surplus or odd-looking but otherwise edible produce to low-income communities.

Established in 2019, Pasar Grub is a social market with a mission to rescue food. By providing easy access to surplus produce at affordable prices, the initiative seeks to enhance the community’s quality of life. It also contributes to a healthier and more sustainable future. Through its efforts, Pasar Grub actively works towards reducing food waste that would otherwise end up in landfills.

The initiative and its partners have consistently helped local businesses and thousands of families during the recent pandemic.

Pasar Grub purchases surplus produce directly from local farms & distributors, providing additional income. They then offer this produce at an affordable price to communities through morning markets or community programmes with their partners.

As of June 30th of this year, Pasar Grub has aided more than 15,150 low-income households, rescued and redistributed 96,525 kg of produce and reduced 219 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions on waste alone from production to consumption.

Feel free to contact them if you’re interested in helping.


#5: SESO

SESO’s co-founders. Source: Vulcan Post

SESO (“Save Environment, Save Ourselves”) is a non-profit organisation founded by three foodies with three purposes in mind[4]:

  • To reduce food waste
  • To reduce food poverty
  • To help to build communities among people who are suffering from social isolation

It is everyone’s responsibility, and by changing our behaviour we can make a difference. – Shi Wen, founder and CEO of SESO[4]

SESO rescues surplus food from supermarkets, grocery stores and shops that would otherwise be wasted. Rescued food is then turned into 3-course meals in makeshift kitchen spaces in community centres. It is served in a “warm, dignified and welcoming environment” to street friends and any member of the public community who would like to join in[4].

Some of their partners and donors include KPMG, Jaya Grocer, Reliance College, Sunway University, Multimedia University, and Street Feeders.

If you would like to volunteer as a collector or cook, check out the details here. SESO also hosts pop-up mamaks every other Saturday at the SESO Centre in Taman Megah or the Pop-up Site in Pasar Seni. Here are the locations and activities involved:


Food Preparation and Equipment Storage

SESO KITCHEN (3pm – 6pm)

  • Kitchen Prep Work
  • Cooking For 200 pax

POP-UP KITCHEN (6pm – 10pm)

  • Transporting equipment and food from Taman Megah to Pasar Seni
  • Kitchen Crew for Plating
  • Return Equipment and Clean-Up

POP-UP SERVICE (7pm – 9pm)

  • Serving Street Friends 3-course meals
  • Clean-Up and wipe down all pop-up items


#6: The Lost Food Project

Source: FMT

The Lost Food Project (TLFP) is a non-profit organisation committed to building a sustainable future. Their mission revolves around rescuing “lost” food and ensuring it finds its way to those who need it the most. TLFP works tirelessly to prevent quality, nutritious food and surplus goods from ending up in landfills. Instead, they redistribute these items to individuals in need, regardless of their religion, gender, age, disability, or ethnic background.

Among the foodstuff TLFP collects are fruits, vegetables, meat, dry goods, baked goods, dairy products, drinks, condiments, canned food, eggs – pretty much anything and everything about to reach its best-by date whilst being edible.

TLFP rescues an average of 10 tonnes of surplus food per week from supermarkets, manufacturers, and wholesalers. It has provided an average of 33,000 meals a week for its charity partners and Malaysians living on or below the poverty line on rescued food alone.

You can support TLFP by donating funds or food or by volunteering to help with the 

rescuing, sorting and redistributing food.


#7: Yayasan Food Bank

Established in 2019 as part of the “inisiatif peduli rakyat” (caring nation) initiative by the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNHEP), Yayasan Food Bank is a charitable foundation. Yayasan collaborates with other non-profit organisations such as the Food Aid Foundation and The Lost Food Project to work towards the common goal of creating “zero waste” and “zero hunger” communities.

Besides using donated funds to purchase food supplies, Yayasan also rescues surplus food from manufacturers, wholesalers, hypermarkets, and hotels. It redistributes it to B40 communities, charity homes, aboriginal communities and welfare centres.

As of now, Yayasan has fed over 2,390,311 people with over 3,266.32 tonnes of rescued food.

Feel free to donate to their cause or contact them or more info.


Explore our sources:

  1. K. Gordon. (2021). 3Rs of Food Waste: Reduce, Rescue & Redistribute. OurBetterWorld. Link.
  2. Institute for Public Health (IPH), National Institutes of Health, Ministry of Health Malaysia. 2020. National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2019: Vol. I: NCDs – Non-Communicable Diseases: Risk Factors and other Health Problems. 
  3. UNICEF. (2018). Child Without. Link.
  4. V. Pang. (2019). How These M’sians Transform Surplus Food Into 3-Course Meals For The Underprivileged. The Vulcan Post. Link.

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