As ever, there are many problems facing the international community at any given time, but two major issues of global concern are directly related to the continued growth of world population. The current global population is estimated to be in the vicinity of 7 billion people, with a projected figure expected to be around 12 billion by 2054 and the difficulties of feeding this many people is a problem being wrestled with, with increasing urgency. At the same time, we are experiencing accelerated global warming, contributed to in no small measure by the increasing amounts of greenhouse gasses given off by landfill around the world.
Enter, Ronnie Kahn.
Conscious of food wastage generally and with a background in the hospitality industry Ronnie was uncomfortably aware of how much food is wasted daily in that particular area. In fact, a recent study by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimated global food loss and wastage at 1.3 billion tonnes a year. In Western societies, much of this is thrown away as waste and ends up in landfill. Australians waste up to 3 million tonnes of food per annum worth up to $5.2 billion a year and, in 2004, Ronnie founded OzHarvest in Sydney with the aim of redistributing some of this food to charities supporting the vulnerable.
Since that time her organisation has grown, thanks to the support of the food donors, volunteers and recipient agencies and has branches in Sydney, Canberra, Newcastle and, now, Adelaide. South Australia is responsible for 240,000 tonnes of the food wasted in Australia and, since they began their work here in January 2011, OzHarvest has rescued 40,000 meals, providing them to South Australians who would have otherwise have gone hungry. For each kilo of food rescued, SA avoids two kilos of greenhouse gas emissions and 143 litres of water consumption – an important consideration in a water-poor state. According to South Australian PhD candidate, Christian Reynolds whose work centres around the environmental and economic costs of domestic food wastage, in just three months of operation OzHarvest has avoided eight tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.
Facilitated by UnitingCare Wesley Port Adelaide, OzHarvest is currently running just one truck, picking up food donations from 34 donors and distributing to 24 charities, but expects to add a second truck to it’s fleet in the coming months. As the collection rate increases, it is expected that OzHarvest will be responsible for preventing the release of over 30 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in this year alone.
The all-singing, all-dancing launch of Adelaide’s OzHarvest was presented by two of OzHarvest SA’s ambassadors, Keith Conlon and Maggie Beer, with singing performances by the Nazareth College Choir, soprano Debra Caddy and an amazing array of desserts donated by Assagio Restaurant. OzHarvest enjoys the support of organisations like the Australian Hotels Association, the Intercontinental Group and Zero Waste SA and the list of sponsors, donor organisations and supporters continues to grow. Tackling two such major, global problems with this one simple solution is inspired, and richly deserves all the support we can give it to continue it’s growth. If you are, or know of, any hospitality business who would be interested in getting in on this extraordinary initiative then check out the OzHarvest Adelaide website or contact their Adelaide office on (08) 8440 2111.
Photographs and press release information supplied by Communikate.