Less food waste, less hungry and more happy people? Seems like an unreal dream? No, it’s possible and Oz Harvest is the organisation which put a lot of effort in to make it happen every single day. In each supermarket, bakery or restaurant is food waste a common problem, at the end of the day not all food is sold or don´t look good enough anymore to be sold the next day. Every fruit and every vegetable has to look in a certain way and if not it will end up in landfill. Also when the expire date from products is expired, they can´t sell them anymore, even if they are still edible. But there is a way to fight against it. The trucks from Oz Harvest driving each day to supermarkets like Woolworths or Aldi and rescuing the food, that otherwise would go to waste. Even to bakeries or at the end of events from different companies. Every single product, from cans, over fruit, vegetables, drinks, to toiletries, will be taken from the Oz Harvest drivers. On the same day of the rescue, they bring it to different charities around Sydney and therefore provide people in need with enough food.
Another contribution is the education program which Oz Harvest organize. They show and teach kids or whole school classes what they can do in their daily life to prevent food waste. Raising awareness and sharing ideas is an important factor to get people involved and to help to change their view on the topic of waste.
Now I want to let you know how my volunteer work for Oz Harvest look like: I´m volunteering in the Oz Harvest market in Kensington/Alexandria. Every morning when the truck arrives, we unload all the groceries and sort them out before we open at 10 o´clock. Almost every day we have a line of 20-30 people waiting outside for our security guard to give each person a number. Then a group of ten people can take a seat in our little community room, where we provide them with some food, because unfortunately a lot of them arrive very hungry. My task is to take a costumer around the market and to shop with themtogether. Each day is different from the amount of food we have, that´s why our manager tells us volunteers how many pieces/items we can give on that day. The whole system is based on donations and each dollar means two meals for people in need. But it is not only about shopping, it is more about communication, to listen to the needs of the people, to be someone who they can talk to, someone who they can trust, someone who can accept them as they are. Costumers build relationships, can share their problems and ask for help. Not everyone is thankful for what we give, but in every situation which frustrates me, I remind myself of all the people who are happy because they can come to our market and give us something back. And with that I don’t mean money, because every smile is so much more worth it than any dollar.
There are people from so many different backgrounds: students; families; homeless people; people from overseas; people who don`t speak English, professionals; seniors and people from “upstairs” (a shelter for young people in crisis). And everyone is welcome in our market. We include, not exclude.
Sometimes we have to face difficult situations: You would like to give more food, because you know this person really needs it, but you know you have to consider everyone else who will come on this day and would like some food as well, so that means you have to make your own decisions; or when someone is discontent, because he is comparing his shopping-basket with the basket next to him; or when someone is getting rude because he wants more; or even just people who never say thank you neither giving donations. But everything has two sides and I´m more than happy to spend my time for a work that other people appreciate.
Another big factor for me is that I´m doing something for the environment and for people in need at the same time. Food waste is the third biggest contributor to global warming and therefore it is our responsibility to make a change and try to reduce our food waste as much as possible. With this we can make a huge step to a far more clean and healthy environment. Next time you see a flaw in a fruit or a brandy carrot, remind yourself that this doesn´t effect the taste. Sometimes it´s even better.
If you want to know more about how Oz Harvest works and what´s the history behind it, then I can strongly recommend our Film & Feast with the movie food fighters. It is about the foundation of the organisation and how Ronny Kahn, the founder, began her fight against food waste. You will be shocked to see what you can find in the big bins from supermarkets, but you will also find hope in the actions that are happening to change our system.
I hope I could give you an insight in this great organisation and I look forward to see you all at our Film & Feast.