Now here's some food for thought. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, about 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted globally every year. That's one-third of all food produced and is more than four times what would be needed to solve the world's hunger crisis. Just a quarter of the food wasted is enough to feed 870 million people.
Enter OzHarvest, established in Sydney in November 2004. Ronni Kahn, founding director of OzHarvest, saw an opportunity to tackle this problem locally by collecting food that would otherwise have been wasted, distributing this to charities supporting the vulnerable. Each week OzHarvest collects over 42 tonnes of good food that would otherwise end up in landfill from more than 2000 food donors. This food is delivered to more than 500 charities that feed people in need for less than $1 per meal.
In addition to collecting and distributing food, OzHarvest has expanded into community education and awareness through programs such as NEST and Cooking for a Cause.
Through the NEST program (Nutrition Education Sustenance Training), OzHarvest teaches people the skills and knowledge they need to nurture themselves through guidance around healthier eating choices and food preparation. The programs are tailored to incorporate training for not only those who access the services of agencies who are recipients of OzHarvest food but also for staff and volunteers within those agencies.
Cooking for a Cause enables people to give a little love through different forms of donation, one being to volunteer for a day of preparing rescued food and serving it to those in need. The writer had the privilege of spending a day with volunteers at the Newtown Mission, one of OzHarvest's recipients, sorting through boxes of produce, peeling, chopping, cooking and serving those who came through the Mission doors that day. The volunteers, who all held corporate roles, learned to innovate with the ingredients available, create nutritious meals, co-operate in the kitchen and congregate with visitors to the Mission. Not only did the hungry and homeless benefit from the food we had prepared, so did the volunteers who left learning a little more about hardship and vulnerability in our society as well as a bit more about each other outside the confines of the corporate world.
If you and a group of friends or work colleagues would like to spend a day together, cooking for a cause, fundraising or organizing a food drive, you can find out more about how to do this at the OzHarvest website or you can contact OzHarvest directly.
If you're looking for a gift that keeps on giving, take a look at OzHarvest's Soul Shop which has some great ideas for gifts, including their cookbook with contributions from some familiar names in the restaurant industry!
As OzHarvest celebrates 10 years of rescuing food and feeding those in need, consider how you could contribute to this worthy cause. Volunteering for OzHarvest is an inspiring and rewarding endeavour. Not only will you be making a difference to the lives of people in need, but you'll also learn how little it takes to make a difference and to make someone smile.