A project set up by a group of students in Ha Noi collects leftover food from hotels and restaurants and donates it to underprivileged hospital patients and others living in the city's slums.
The "Ha Noi Enough" project kicked off in August 2013 and has grown from just five members to more than 30 members, as well as more than 300 collaborators.
The project establishes connections with restaurants, supermarkets, hotels and food processing plants, which have an abundance of food. The food is re-processed and divided up at the Phuc Tue Children Caring Centre, then delivered to needy people every Wednesday and Saturday afternoon.
The beneficiaries are impoverished people living in slums near the Long Bien Bridge and the Hong (Red) River, the Dong Da Hospital and the Vi Ngay Mai (For Future) Centre, which cares for disabled children.
Chu Thi Hoang Loan, head of the project, told the Tien phong (Vanguard) newspaper that these kinds of food banks are popular in other countries. But she said the concept is new in Viet Nam, so coordinators encountered some obstacles.
Local authorities were wary of the food quality, and some restaurants also worried that the food would spoil while it was being transported.
Project members must take photographs to document the process of delivering the food to the recipients, and then show the photos to participating restaurants as proof of receipt, Loan said.
Challenges not only came from the givers, but also the receivers, she said.
The recipients, many whom did not understand the concept of reusing the excess food, were reserved when they received the donation. At times, they declined to accept the food out of self-respect.
Loan said "Ha Noi Enough" has grown its reputation, and the project now hosts several social activities including "Warm winter and Tet enough 2014" and "Save Food, Save the Earth 2014".
So far the project has approached 36 restaurants, four of which have pledged to participate long-term. More than 200 rations have been delivered.
Thin, an underprivileged elderly woman who is a regular beneficiary of the project, said the ration she receives is her primary meal.
Project members are now calling upon restaurants to pledge to save food.
"The most important thing is the awareness of saving the food of each person and each family," a representative from the project said.
In the future, the project will set up a food fund - the first of its kind in Viet Nam - to supply meals to needy people on a consistent basis.