Reaping rewards

Matt Golinski discovers a staggering amount of food that is wasted every year – and the program that is making an difference and reaping rewards for the less fortunate.

on Tuesday, 08 Mar, 2016

Four million tonnes of food

That’s four trillion kilos.

That’s the equivalent of about six trillion loaves of bread.

If you took six trillion loaves of bread and put themend-to-end, you’d have enough to circle the earth at the equator 45,000 times.

That’s how much food gets wasted in Australia each year.

If that’s not alarming enough, also consider the water, fuel, packaging, transport and labour that’s wasted along with the food itself. Not to mention the landfill that comes with four million tonnes of waste each year.

Equally alarming is the fact that in this lucky country of ours, it’s estimated that two million of us struggle to afford to put food on the table each day.

In 2004,Ronni Khan decided it was time to do something about that gap between the waste and the hunger, and so OzHarvest was born.

With the help of pro-bono lawyers, he set about lobbying the state governments to amend legislation to allow potential food donors to donate surplus food to charitable organisations.

The Civil Liabilities Amendment Act was passed in NSW in 2005with ACT, SA and QLD following. This ensured surplus food could be donated to charitable causes without fear of liability.

Since its inception, OzHarvest has delivered more than 30 million meals to Australians in need.

From its approximately 2,000 donors around the country, including farmers’ markets, bakeries, butchers, fruit and vegetable shops, supermarkets, cafes and restaurants, this group of dedicated volunteers manages to rescue around 56 tonnes of food each week and redistribute it to more than 600charityagencies who in turndeliver these much needed supplies to the vulnerable and struggling members of the community.

With established outlets inSydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Newcastle and Perth, in 2011 the organisation decided it was time to tackle the huge issue of undernourishment and hunger that exists in regional areas of Australia, and so REAP, OzHarvest’s umbrella organisationwas developed.

With the support, education and best practice examples fromOzHarvest HQ, the 100% volunteer REAP chapters gather and distribute food to have a positive impact on reducing food waste and hunger in their local areas.

REAP Sunshine Coast launched in 2014with an initial catchment area intended to capture charitable organisations and vulnerable groups (i.e. homeless, isolated pensioners, single headed households, disenfranchised youth, victims of domestic violence, etc.) from Noosa-Tewantin to Coolum. More recently the program has expanded into Maroochydore and Nambour.

Current donors to the group include Noosa Farmers’ Market, Bent Banana, Peregian Beach Bakery, Baked Poetry, Essential Grain, Peregian Springs Meats, Mt Coolum Meats, Jeffers Market, Farmers Quarter, Two Bros., Tanglewood Bakery, Walters Artisan Breads, Kenilworth Free Range Farm and BunningsWarehouse Café Noosaville.

Since commencing operations 18 months ago, REAP SC has rescued and redistributedmore than 22 tonnes of foodto Salvation Army centres, neighbourhood and community centres, and schools and learning centres across the Coast.

Additionally, REAP Sunshine Coast has reached out to local schools to initiate can/pantry drives. Thus far, the program has been supported by Noosa Pengari Steiner School, Peregian Springs State School, Sunshine Beach State Primary School and C&K Tewantin Community Childcare Centre. Combined, these four efforts brought in over 2,500 cans and pantry items—food that is particularly important to charities and a major source of food to families and individuals in need.

To enquire about becoming a donor, recipient or volunteer you can contact Michele Lipner You can also visit the REAP Sunshine Coast webpage at check out the national Facebook page at

NB The author of this story is a chef and not a mathematician, so takes no responsibility for dodgy statistics at the beginning of the article! Figures based on 680gm loaf of bread that is 30cm long and the actual circumference of the earth at the equator.

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