(MENAFN - Arab News) The community in Alkhobar has grown accustomed to arranging the most extravagant feasts during Ramadan to celebrate the holy month, yet tables laden with foods are cleared every night and millions of meals are thrown away.
The disturbing trend presented an opportunity for the Al-Fozan Social Foundation to create the first Saudi food bank of its kind, called Itaam, with the help of 49 businessmen and a capital of almost SR 9 million.
Itaam is a year-round charitable organization that collects quality meals with the help of regular employees and volunteers, and delivers them to beneficiaries recommended by charities in the utmost of privacy.
Abdulla Al-Fozan, member of the founding committee, contacted a food bank in Egypt and utilized its vast experience in this domain to ensure that the establishment of the bank was built on strong foundations.
According to Khaled Khan, an official at the Itaam food bank, more than four million meals are dumped in the garbage every day all year round. Khan says this "shocking number" is what led the businessmen to take a step forward and lend a charitable hand to those in need and shoulder their responsibility toward their communities.
But that is not all the founders wanted to accomplish with this project. Through their recruitment of team workers they offer a smooth coalition of charity and social work by training and rehabilitating their workers, and in doing so, offer unique employment opportunities.
The poverty rates are high in the Kingdom, reaching more than 4 million, and even though the Al-Fozan Group has different initiatives ranging from charity housing and improving the living conditions of those in need, to building rehabilitation centers for the handicapped, they state on their website that "The enlightening of the youth tops the agenda of social service as a whole."
The youth in the Eastern Province grew fond of charitable work from their experience of dealing with such professional organizations and have started their own projects that they run in their free time with their friends.
"Humanitarian relief is important but it is not as crucial for the development of any society as finding ways to tap into the great energy that is the youth of the nation and giving them the trust they deserve to pave their future with good work," said one of the officials. This is why the Al-Fozan Group supports "Khawater," the popular show that airs during Ramadan on MBC, which offers a rare opportunity for the youth to find fresh ideas for volunteering and charitable work as well as monetary gains for their efforts, thereby fostering creativity and keeping the youth busy.
Al Fozan Group sees this as the building block of a bigger project, which is providing the young minds with education and experience.
Those interested in volunteering or contributing to Itaam can visit their website at www.saudifoodbank.com or call them at their branch located in Dammam at 03-8479696.