According to Friends of the Earth, more than 550,000 people visit food banks each year for basic provisions such as vegetables, bread and noodles. Food banks make use of a recycling network made up of students, new immigrant mothers, community groups and NGOs, which transports unsold food from supermarkets and manufacturers to residents in need.
Last year, the government launched a campaign to cut food waste dumped into landfills, but it largely ignored redistribution efforts. Food recyclers say there is no official fund to support their work.
"We tried applying for the government's Sustainable Development Fund and the Environment and Conservation Fund, but we were rejected, as we did not meet the requirements," said Allen Yuen, project co-ordinator at Food Grace.
Celia Fung Sze-lai, environmental affairs officer at Friends of the Earth, said: "We hope the government allocates money for a fund that food recyclers can apply for, and lets organisations rent market stalls and ground-floor units for free or a low price."
Philip Liu Ka-keung, project co-ordinator at People Service Centre, which operates two food-share projects, cited a different headache: "We have more than enough donations, but just no room to store all of it, so it is very difficult to expand."