As millions of tonnes of good food is wasted in Australia every year, Ozharvest is making a real difference
As Brisbane’s amazing and efficient food distributor to the needy, OzHarvest is tailoring the staggering amount of waste food in Brisbane to where it is most welcome.
Under the coordination of Cameron Hickey, OzHarvest collects the excess food from restaurants, cafes, supermarkets and shops and takes it to where it is needed most – to hungry families, migrants, elderley and unemployed – to church groups, neighbourhood centres and community groups keeping these people fed. OzHarvest has two full-time drivers, an operations officer and 80 volunteers. They are there at donors’ doors every day, at the same time, without fail and so have built up a reputation that is mutually beneficial. Stores and restaurants get rid of what they haven’t sold and food banks and hungry tummies are filled.
Australians throw out an average of 178kg of food per person each year. Yet paradoxically every day, thousands of children go to school here without breakfast or to bed without dinner.
OzHarvest had their biggest ever week of donations recently with a massive 8865kg collected with only two small trucks and a ute. This meant more than 27,000 meals were delivered to those in need in one week. That took the tally to well over 750,000 meals delivered by OzHarvest Brisbane since starting operations in September 2011.
Hickey, 29, an affable young man, has the right mix of compassion, common sense and practical business front that has seen OzHarvest provide more than 500,000 meals to over 70 different Brisbane charities over the last year two years.
“Since starting in Queensland in 2011, OzHarvest Brisbane has rescued and diverted 220,000kg of excess food from going in the bin – and ultimately landfill,” he says. “Nationally, OzHarvest has diverted an astounding six million kilograms of surplus food from ending up there.”
Curbing waste goes back a way with Hickey, a married father of two. He had established a relationship with Brisbane charities before OzHarvest, by supplying them with excess vegetables he grew at his Kurwongbah home.
Nowadays he works closely with donors to ensure the sustainability of the OzHHarvest operations. Strict protocols are necessary to protect both recipients and the donors. Much of the work is done by word of mouth and corporates volunteer kitchen space and staff to cook for charities, turning the excess donations of milk, butter, bread, fruit, meat and whatever into proper meals, so recipients are given the dignity of a restaurant-quality feed, not just dished up slop, Hickey says.
Cameron Hickey is not your average charity worker. He was an electrical engineer in the Navy, community gardener and pastry chef and grew up with a mother with MS and a father with chronic fatigue, so neither of them worked a lot.
” You utilised whatever you could scrounge up and tried to think outside the box where you could,” he says.
And the leftovers from the leftovers? They go to the zoo or to people’s chooks or guinea pigs.
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