Food Angel is a Bo Charity food rescue and assistance programme with a decade of rescuing surplus edible food, reintegrating it into the food supply chain. They have been collecting these safe surpluses donated by the catering industry, which are then transported to their central kitchen to be prepared as hot or cold meals, after which are to be distributed to the underprivileged communities and elderly.
“Food Angel has three local kitchens, one Vegetable Processing Centre and other warehouses, with a fleet of 50 trucks running around from 8am to 11pm,” says Julian Chow, Senior Manager of Community Partner Engagement at Food Angel. “The whole process could have been smoother. As such, we aim at establishing new technologies and a large central kitchen by integrating all the kitchens, workshops and warehouses, where all the sorting and other procedures can be centralised.”
In terms of technology, the charity used to manage their logistics, warehouses and fleets manually. “It was quite difficult as we have over 50 trucks, and there is a good chance of making mistakes.” As a result, a turn toward technology offered the necessary reprieve. “Two years ago, we started to make use of cloud technologies and barcode-labelling to trace the meal boxes, and collect logistics data,” Chow says. “Besides, our kitchens involve a lot of QA procedures, we hope our whole food handling and logistic process could be systemised and become gradually visible so as to improve food quality and maintain a high standard of food safety.”
With the rapid development of technologies, new services were developed more efficiently. Their innovation initiative with the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) was a success in terms of charitable collaborations. The Automated Food Dispenser (AFD) Service started in September last year. They are planning to deploy 50 machines within the 3-year period by phases, and currently have 13 AFDs in 7 districts across Hong Kong.
“Many families are facing unemployment issues amid the pandemic so we have extended our services,” says Chow. “We were considering how to better facilitate our users to expand the service, and collect meals anytime, anywhere.” Since many of these families are new to such services, the AFD machines and the whole system have facilitated their use, from application, interview to assessment and approval, the whole process is conducted remotely.
With the help of groundbreaking innovation, the company integrated the “waste-to-table” and “zero-waste” concepts in every aspect of their food supply chains.
“Biodegradable meal box developed by Ecoinno is such a great breakthrough for us.” Ecoinno patented Green Composite Material™ (GCM™) made from natural plant fibres, 100 percent biodegradable in the natural environment within 75 days, and has extreme temperature tolerance.
During the pandemic, these “magic” meal boxes further unleash their potential. “In the past we needed to recycle the meal boxes which involved logistics, cleansing and hygiene problems. With Ecoinno’s disposable boxes, all problems are solved,” says Chow.
As a charity entering an inevitable new era of innovations, Food Angel saw it necessary to invest in technology in the next decade. Chow explains, “We only thought of recycling and preparing meals in the past, now we use technologies to help manage logistics, communication and packaging of foods, in every small process and business units. We were not used to it before but now we embrace it.”
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