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Ghana chef serves free stew as more struggle to afford food

COOPER INVEEN and FRANCIS KOKOROKO

STORM clouds circled a large zinc shed outside Ghana’s capital Accra where market porters sat on overturned metal bowls, disheartened by the lack of business as the encroaching rain deterred shoppers from nearby stalls.

Then a rumbling sound broke the stillness as gourmet chef Elijah Addo pulled up in a food truck and started dishing up hot plates of beef stew.

Eyes widened when the 31-year-old said they were free and bright faces lined up behind the vehicle.

Addo said he has two core missions, to reduce hunger and eliminate food waste. With food prices up an annual 30% in May, he is finding more and more people are turning to his food truck, including those with jobs and homes.

“It started with a disabled man I met in 2011, who would collect unused food from the hotel I worked at for his colleagues on the street,” Addo explained.

Chef Elijah Amoo Addo, 31, and cook Angel Laryea, 31, of Food For All Africa organization, prepare free lunch for distribution in vulnerable communities in Accra, Ghana June 3, 2022. REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko

“When I asked him why he did that, he told me: ‘If I don’t, who will?'”

Inspired, Addo founded West Africa’s largest food bank, started a school feeding programme and organised bi-weekly food truck distributions in Accra’s poorer neighbourhoods.

Addo’s organisation, Food For All Africa, has distributed around 3 million meals since 2015. About 40% of ingredients are unsold stock from supermarkets, wholesalers and farmers that would otherwise end up in landfills.

Food For All’s predecessor organization, Chefs For Change, found in 2014 that more than 35% of Ghana’s food is wasted.

But more than 28% of people in Ghana, one of West Africa’s largest economies, cannot afford to spend more than $0.83 per day on food, according to 2016 government data.

That was before rampant inflation broke an 18-year record in May, marking a full year of quickening price growth the government is struggling to stem.

“What we are doing is important,” Addo said after a morning of cooking. “It’s part of building a stronger social system for Ghana.”

By The African Mirror

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