Talking Point: food waste challenge for hotels in India

How can hotels manage food waste and help hungry children?

How can hotels manage food waste and help hungry children?

ITP's Youth Career Initiative operates in international hotels around the world and as such encounters some unique issues and challenges. Here our Regional Coordinator in Mumbai wonders whether food waste in hotels in India could be used to help hungry children.

I’m Santosh Bhuvad, the Regional Coordinator for ITP’s Youth Career Initiative (YCI) in Asia Pacific, based in Mumbai. I work closely with hotels, NGOs, and vulnerable and disadvantaged young people helping provide employment and training opportunities within the hospitality industry.

YCI is an innovative, high-impact programme that helps to combat the global issue of unemployment, particularly among young people.

While working on the programme in my location of Mumbai, I frequently encounter the very visible issue of malnutrition and hunger in Indian children. Simultaneously, working within the hotel industry, I can see they are battling the issue of food waste.

Despite being the world’s fastest growing major economy, according to the International Monetary Fund, overtaking China in 2016, UNICEF estimates that one-third of the world’s malnourished children live in India. Over 7000 Indian people die of hunger every day. The biggest problem is the high number of underweight children under five; a result of malnourishment and poor nutrition education.

By contrast, a study by the Food Ministry in the Indian Government found that about 20% of food at social events such as weddings goes to waste. Wastage also occurs at parties, functions and restaurants. This is a sad state of affairs when one considers that two hundred thousand street children in Mumbai go to sleep hungry every day.

Santosh Bhuvad - YCI regional coordinator in Mumbai

Santosh Bhuvad - YCI regional coordinator in Mumbai


In particular I see lots of kids beside traffic signals or outside temples begging for food. Many children from poorer families are going into schools not carrying a lunch box. I have also witnessed, particularly in hotels, food is often wasted and left over after parties, functions or big events.

But hotels can bridge the gap between these issues by spreading awareness during functions to guests not to waste food, reduce plate wastage and if untouched food is left over, they can then distribute it to needy children through reliable local NGO partners.

Hotels can also work to reduce food waste at various stages of production: by ordering carefully and storing appropriately to minimise food spoilage; by finding ways to reduce scraps during preparation by using bones and vegetable peelings to create stocks; by monitoring portion sizes to reduce plate wastage; by finding ways to re-use leftover food, for example by turning unused bread into bread and butter pudding, or making unused bacon or other cooked meats or fish into curries, stews, quiches or pies. For more tips on reducing food waste in hotels, see our Know How Guide.

Hotels in India can use these resources to identify charities which accept and redistribute left over food.

The YCI programme offers training and employment opportunities to disadvantaged young people, as well by working with shelters for street children and young children from very poor families. For many of the YCI students, a major attraction in joining the programme is a free on-duty meal.

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