We care about what goes onto our plate. At breakfast with furrowed brows, we ponder whether our bacon was ethically raised, or if our poached eggs were the product of carefree chickens running through meadows. It’s easy to get swept up in words such as local, free range, organic and seasonal. But for some, wondering ‘where our food comes from’ means something quite different.
Two million Australians struggle to access meals each year and sadly over half of those are children. In 2004 the enigmatic Ronni Kahn had a vision, call it a yearning to contribute to society. Inspired by New York’s successful food-rescue organisation CityHarvest, Ronni was determined that the model would work in Australia and thus OzHarvest was born. OzHarvest’s mission is to combat both food waste and food security, collecting quality surplus food and delivering to charities to nourish vulnerable men, women and children throughout Australia.
Since 2004, OzHarvest has delivered more than 32 million meals to those in need, diverting a whopping 10,000 tonnes of food from landfill. Rescuing excess food from the likes of supermarkets, hotels, restaurants, catering companies and farmers and with the help of volunteers in kitchens all over Australia turn what could have been waste into meals for those less fortunate.
In November last year, OzHarvest expanded into Western Australia and now our local community can support this amazing cause. You might have recently spied OzHarvest’s tell-tale yellow vans on the streets of Perth. As part of the Eat Drink Perth program, I was invited to attend Food for Thought, a cooking class with a whole lot of heart and soul. Welcomed by local food pioneer and OzHarvest’s WA Ambassador, Ian Parmenter, we were able to meet the incredibly inspiring Ronni and hear her amazing journey.
Under the trees of the Perth Convention & Exhibition Centre, we split into groups to create recipes using rescued food. We were in charge of beef kofta and apple couscous whilst others cooked delights such as bread and butter pudding, corn fritters amongst other hearty dishes with the help of volunteer chefs. I’ve always found group cooking plenty of fun, it makes such an awesome team building exercise, especially knowing the meals would soon be on the road in the OzHarvest vans.
As night fell, delicious aromas filled the air and Ronni shared a beautifully humbling sentiment with us all. She certainly has a way with words and it was so moving to hear her passion and feel a part of the OzHarvest family. I couldn’t help but think ‘Now my heart bleeds yellow too’. There is something magical knowing that by giving up just a few hours of our time, we were able to create 500 meals for St Bart’s in East Perth and St Patrick’s in Fremantle. It certainly brings a deeper meaning to knowing where your food comes from.