OzHarvest, the organisation that has been rescuing surplus food from commercial providers and redistributing it to charities since 2004, has launched an initiative to further help those in need and reduce food waste.
In this latest venture, opened just last week, OzHarvest has created Australia’s first rescued food supermarket, operating on a 'take what you need, give what you can' basis, ensuring Sydneysiders can access fresh food regardless of their ability to pay.
While initially launched as a test case, the project has gained traction quickly, with the market already serving over 150 people a day —and that number is growing. There are also plans in the works to open other outlets, and not just in Sydney.
The supermarket stocks all the items you would find in your typical supermarket: fresh fruit and vegetables, frozen, dried and canned grocery items, dairy, bread from the Bread & Butter Project, toiletries, baby supplies, and more. Food and grocery items are donated or rescued from a range of businesses across Sydney — other supermarkets, cafés, restaurants, hotels, and even airlines. All the donated and rescued items – which are predominantly surplus stock, and perfectly edible (or usable in case of non-food items like toiletries) — were destined for landfill. Considering that Australia racks up around $20bn worth of food waste each year, with around 4 million tonnes of food going to landfill, a project of this nature can have a huge impact.
Reducing food waste is a driving force for OzHarvest Market, but it is not the only focus. Founder and CEO Ronni Kahn says that the market is "about dignity". It is about "anyone walking through this door, taking what they need, and only giving back if they can". And many are in need, as shown by the 2016 Food Bank Hunger Report, which found that 1 in 6 Australians experience food insecurity.
Kahn sums up the overall purpose of OzHarvest like this:
“Every time we save good food, we help the planet. Every time we take that food and feed hungry people, we address social issues”. That is clearly a win-win concept.
The supermarket is housed in a donated space in Kensington in Sydney’s inner east. Property development group TOGA invited OzHarvest to make use of the street level retail space in their Addison Road Project while they await DA approval. On top of helping make OzHarvest Market a possibility, TOGA has also opened up the residential space above the store for temporary housing of at-risk youth and young families.
The entire OzHarvest Market project is about giving hope and giving back, and also helping win the war on waste.
- Visit, volunteer or donate to OzHarvest Market
- Support the commercial outlets that support OzHarvest Market
- Learn how to prevent food waste in your own kitchen