A Ghanaian Chef Feeding His Country and Combating Food Waste
Ghanaian chef Elijah Amoo Addo is on a mission to feed his nation on the excesses the food industry creates. Since 2012, he has been collecting unwanted stock or food nearing its use-by date from suppliers, farmers and restaurants in Ghana to redistribute to orphanages, hospitals, schools and vulnerable communities through his not-for-profit organization Food for All Africa. They provide meals through a Share Your Breakfast program in addition to donating stock to be used later. The organization supports and encourages communities to farm and works with stakeholders within Ghana's food industry on ways to combat waste.
The idea was born in 2009 when Amoo Addo was on his way to work at a top restaurant in Ghana's capital Accra, when he came across a mentally challenged man collecting leftover food from street vendors to hand out to other vulnerable people. The young chef asked what the man was doing.
He told him that if he didn't help others who needed it, who would?
Making sure everyone had access to nutritious food was a "shared responsibility," Amoo Addo decided.
With support from public and private organizations, Food for All Africa studied food waste in Ghana, estimating that around 45 percent of all food goes to waste. A 2016 U.N. International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) report found 3.5 million children (28.3 percent) live in poverty in Ghana, with 1.2 million of those living in households unable to provide adequate food. The National Development Planning Commission also found that 24 percent of all child mortality cases in Ghana are associated with undernutrition, and the annual costs associated with child undernourishment are estimated at around US$1 billion.
Amoo Addo sees reducing food loss as a way to provide food to those in need throughout the nation, helping Ghana reach the U.N. Sustainable Development Goal Number 2—eradicating hunger.
Along with still doing the work of going out to feed those in need his organization is now looking for nationwide, policy change. Over the past year, Food for All Africa has been working on a National Food Donors Encouragement Bill to help simplify the process for businesses within Ghana's food supply chain to donate their excesses.
While Amoo Addo found France's 2016 decision to ban some forms of food waste inspiring, it was a bit too extreme to work in Ghana, he said. Regulating the system and making it easier for suppliers to donate is a better place to start, he found.
"We realized it's not as if they don't want to donate. The willingness is there—they want to give. It's more the stress they have to go through in giving," Amoo Addo said. The bill will make it easier and straightforward to get the tax breaks on donations, he added.
Currently, it takes weeks and a lot of back and forward between different government departments to get tax benefits on the donations, according to Amoo Addo.
Despite the challenges, there are more and more people and companies willing to help feed those in feed. The charity's biggest donor, the food distribution company Kwatsons, gave close to US$91,000 worth of products in 2017. It saw a 48 percent increase in food donations from the previous year.
Around the 2017 Christmas holiday season in Ghana, Amoo Addo noticed a lot more organizations and community groups focused on combating waste and hunger than in previous years, by doing either direct donations to those in need or organizing free meals through the nation. "It gave me a source of encouragement. People are now thinking more and caring more—most especially the youth. A lot of the youth are now focusing more on combating hunger," Amoo Addo noted.
Never one to sit back on his plans, Amoo Addo and his Food for All Africa have also developed an app intended to make it easier for those who have food to donate to connect with those who are in need.
Smartphone use and penetration in Ghana is high, from cheap models to the latest iPhone, more people are likely to have a smartphone than a laptop—in 2016, 65.74 percent of the population had mobile data access. The organization hopes to harness this usage and launch the app in 2018. Amoo Addo wants to see the National Food Donors Encouragement Bill passed this year, as well. He is also expanding a new venture: community food centers where vulnerable people are able to collect food donations, much like a food bank in developed nations.
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By Kristen Fischer
It's going to be back-to-school time soon, but will children go into the classrooms?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thinks so, but only as long as safety measures are in place.
Keeping Schools Safe<p>What will safer schools look like?</p><p>In a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2766822" target="_blank">JAMA article</a> published last month, <a href="https://www.jhsph.edu/faculty/directory/profile/1781/joshua-m-sharfstein" target="_blank">Dr. Joshua Sharfstein</a>, a pediatrician and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, outlined suggestions — many of which are similar to AAP's.</p><p>Remote learning protocols must stay in place, especially as some schools stagger home and in-building learning. If another shutdown needs to occur, children will rely on distance learning completely, so it must be easy to switch to, he said.</p><p>He suggested giving parents a daily checklist to document their child's health. Kids should be screened quickly on arrival and be given hygiene supplies. Maintenance staff should use appropriate PPE and have regular cleaning schedules. A notification system should be in place if a case is identified, Sharfstein recommended.</p><p><a href="https://www.albany.edu/rockefeller/faculty/erika-martin" target="_blank">Erika Martin</a>, PhD, an associate professor of public administration and policy at University at Albany, said nutrition assistance and health services should be included. She called for tutoring programs with virtual options as well as technology access.</p>
Supporting Staff<p>Teachers and staff will be affected by safeguarding measures, noted <a href="https://directory.sph.umn.edu/bio/sph-a-z/rachel-widome" target="_blank">Rachel Widome</a>, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology and community health at University of Minnesota.</p><p>"In order for all of the in-school precautions to work well, we'll be asking a lot of teachers and staff," Widome told Healthline. In addition to their usual workload, they'll now be asked to monitor mask-wearing, ensure children are keeping distance, and be aware of any symptoms.</p><p>Along with Sharfstein, Widome called for an increase in financial support. More employees will likely be required so teachers and staff members can keep up with the added demands.</p>
Should Kids Go Back?<p>While these guidelines may help get some schools to reopen, many people don't think children should go back to school over fears they could contract the disease and spread it to other vulnerable family members like grandparents, infant siblings, or their parents.</p><p>In a <a href="https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2020/07/08/peds.2020-004879" target="_blank">Pediatrics</a> commentary, <a href="https://www.md.com/doctor/william-raszka-md" target="_blank">Dr. William V. Raszka, Jr.</a>, an infectious disease specialist at The University of Vermont Medical Center, argued that schools should open because school-aged children are far less important drivers of COVID-19 than adults.</p><p>But he says the risk and benefit is not equal among all students ages 5 to 18.</p><p>"Elementary schools are arguably higher priority for face-to-face schooling, since younger children are at lower risk for infection and transmission, and since parental supervision of younger children's distance learning may be particularly challenging," added Sorensen, who penned a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/channels/health-forum/fullarticle/2767411" target="_blank">June article in JAMA</a> with reopening tips. "That means middle and high schools are more likely to emphasize distance learning."</p><p>Specific student populations, such as special education students and students with disabilities, would also benefit greatly from more time spent in face-to-face environments, Sorensen said.</p>
What Parents Can Do<p>Parents should ask for and receive frequent updates from schools about plans for the fall. They should also be informed about plans if and when COVID infections are identified, Sharfstein said.</p><p>"I'd like to see parents investing now, during the summer, in doing things that can slow and stop the spread of the virus in their communities," Widome said.</p><p>"Now is a good time for kids to practice wearing masks and get used to them as they may be wearing them for longer stretches if school starts up in person," Widome suggested.</p><p>She recommends parents try different mask designs and materials to see what children are more comfortable wearing.</p><p>"If you are using cloth face coverings, it's good to have extras on hand," Widome added.</p><p>Parents should model healthy behavior at home and while out in public — another thing that could affect how well children adapt to reopening practices, Sorensen said.</p><p>"Children may want to know more about face coverings," added <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/leescott/" target="_blank">Lee Scott</a>, chairwoman of the Educational Advisory Board at <a href="https://www.goddardschool.com/" target="_blank">The Goddard School</a>. "Dramatic play, such as creating or wearing a face covering, may help some children adjust to this concept." Schools can also show children photos of what faculty members look like in their masks so the students are familiar with that appearance.</p><p>Johns Hopkins University recently released its eSchool+ Initiative, a slew of resources surrounding education during the pandemic. These include a <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-checklist/" target="_blank">checklist for administrators</a>, report on <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/ethics-of-reopening/" target="_blank">ethical considerations</a>, and a tracker of <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-policy-tracker/" target="_blank">state and local reopening plans</a>.</p>
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<div id="fea63" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9a6f211c2bc5aedd34837944cb8eeedf"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1281000111481294849" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Water in Illinois is overwhelmingly public. Why is Tammy Duckworth sponsoring a bill that aims to change that? https://t.co/1V36Kkd99s</div> — The American Prospect (@The American Prospect)<a href="https://twitter.com/TheProspect/statuses/1281000111481294849">1594249201.0</a></blockquote></div>
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