One thing that can be said about attending parliamentary committee meetings (unrelated to the discourse), is that the food served to MPs and visitors during the meetings is plentiful and delicious. Fresh filter coffee and cream, scones with whipped cream and jam, fine cheeses with crackers, croissant sandwiches with a variety of fillings and a selection of well cooked lamb, chicken and beef are some of the delights one can expect to find. Where did the coffee beans originate? Are they fair trade? What’s on the menu for lunch? Stemming from my love of food, these are some of the questions I ponder when attending a committee meeting. But one should also consider some real questions like: Who pays for this food? And what happens to the leftover food that is not eaten?
Well, presumably, it is taxpayer money that pays for the food. While this is not a big problem, because everyone needs to eat and meetings must proceed in an efficient manner, I really wonder what happens to the leftover food. Is it thrown in the garbage? If so, this is an issue. Urban food insecurity is rampant in Cape Town and it is obvious that wasted food could be ‘recycled’ and donated to a local soup kitchen, food bank, or NGO that supports community food programs, promotes food security and facilitate access to proper nutrition for the homeless and the poor. Although setting up a programme like this takes a little more effort than simply throwing something into the garbage, it would be extremely beneficial and helpful to those in need – not to mention it would provide some good press for Parliament!
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