With the cost-of-living crisis currently facing the UK, new research out this week from Human Appeal, a faith based poverty relief organisation, has highlighted concerns over food waste during Ramadan in a survey of the Muslim community.
The research revealed that over three quarters (77 per cent) of UK Muslims are concerned about wasted food during Ramadan, while over half (54 per cent) have not consumed all the food they prepared during the month-long festival in previous years.
Both Human Appeal and food waste app OLIO, who supported the research, are calling for those celebrating it to consider sharing spare food that may otherwise go unused.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and starts when the new moon first appears in the night sky – which this year falling on 2April. A time of deep devotion, charity and compassion for the poor, most Muslims fast between during daytime hours, sharing a meal together (Iftar) after sunset.
Providing food for others is considered an important part of observance, and the study showed that most people surveyed believe wasting food doesn’t reflect the true spirit of Ramadan.
Although many help provide Iftar meals to the poor and in-need through communities and mosques, individuals can also take more responsibility to curb wasted food during the period.
Encouragingly, the study shows that 93 per cent of UK Muslims have previously shared surplus food with neighbours during Ramadan, so making this easier to do – via food waste apps for example – may encourage more regular giving.
App users can make spare food items available by uploading an image and description, so that others can browse listings in their local area and request to collect an item.
“We are encouraged by the willingness of the UK Muslim community to share food, especially when we recall each night this Ramadan that 10 per cent of the world will go to bed hungry, in addition to the economic pressures within the UK increasing,” says Abid Shah, UK programme manager at Human Appeal.
“Food sharing services such as OLIO make it easy and quick for those looking to share surplus food with others in their local community.”
Preparations for Ramadan, and also for hosting guests during Eid al-Fitr or the ‘Festival of Breaking the Fast’ at the end of this holy month, may involve buying more food than can be used, so if you are wanting to manage your food resources and cut costs, there are some simple habits that help.
Checking cupboards and fridge more often and having a shelf or container in the fridge for ‘use this first’ means you won’t miss using or giving away food before its use-by date.
There are also some great apps to help; No Waste and AnyList are good tools to organise and manage food in your home, with handy inventory lists for your freezer, fridge, and pantry that let you quickly see and search for what’s in stock.