In Australia, more than four million metric tons of food ends up in a landfill annually. That’s nearly nine billion pounds of food waste every year. And the problem is global. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that roughly one-third of the food produced for human consumption each year is lost or wasted. Yet millions of people still go hungry. In Australia alone, two million people are reliant on food relief agencies, even though enough food is produced to feed 60 million people for a population of roughly half that.
Seeing the solution in the combination of the two problems, Ronni Kahn (pictured above) founded OzHarvest in 2004, an organization dedicated to food rescue and reallocation. “Before starting OzHarvest Ronni worked in the events industry were she often saw firsthand the huge amounts of food just thrown away after events,” says Louise Tran, the head of marketing and communications for OzHarvest. Kahn now serves as CEO and continues to be the driving force in the organization’s expansion across Australia and beyond.
OzHarvest collects produce and other foods from outlets like grocery stores, restaurants, hotels and catering companies and redistributes it to area charities including men’s and women’s shelters, homeless and youth centers, food relief agencies and schools in disadvantaged communities. Since their inception, OzHarvest has rescued 15 metric tons of food and delivered more than 45 million meals, assisting more than 800 charities across the country.
But in addition to providing food, OzHarvest aims at the root of the problem. “We seek to increase public awareness around the issues of food waste and food security and how individuals have the power to make a difference,” says Tran. “We also provide opportunities for young people via our Nourish program, which provides hospitality training for disadvantaged youth. And through our NEST program we provide nutrition education and cooking skills to people in need.”
With hunger and food waste being such universal issues, it’s no surprise that so many participating bars in Australia have selected OzHarvest to receive their Negroni Week proceeds. To put it in real terms, with every $1 donation, OzHarvest is able to provide two meals.