Sydney, July 29 (IANS) On a cold and damp morning, Australian Alex Hemmer rose from his home hoping to bring joy and light to another person’s life in a world beset by hunger.
“Hello good morning this is Alex from OzHarvest,” Hemmer told a potential donor while driving to the first food rescue, reports Xinhua news agency.
Hemmer is a food rescuer for Australian charity OzHarvest. OzHarvest acts as an intermediary, picking up and delivering donated excess food from over 2,000 cafes, bakeries and supermarkets to more than 800 charities across Australia that help the nation’s most needy.
“I don’t have anything for you, sorry,” the lady on the other end of the phone said.
“Nothing today? No worries. We’ll see you next week,” Hemmer responded as he continued to drive his route through Sydney’s inner-city suburbs.
OzHarvest and their 29 bumblebee yellow vans across Australia are on a mission with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to combat food waste.
The FAO estimates 1.3 billion tonnes of food, or a third of global food production, is either wasted or lost each year. Yet recovering just half of that could feed the world alone.
Australians themselves throw out up to 10 billion Australian dollars ($7.49) worth of produce annually, but the country’s disadvantaged still go hungry.
“Enough food is produced in Australia to feed 60 million people (but) at the same time two million people rely on food relief,” OzHarvest marketing chief Louise Tran said. “Those statistics don’t really add up.”
Australians, however, are a generous people, more often than not trying to help out those desperately in need, Xinhua said.
“It’s everything to a lot of these (disadvantaged) people,” Hemmer said, describing the moment the van arrives stuffed full of delicious goodies to needy charities.
“They see all the interesting things and wonderful food that we collect … and (it) makes a difference to their bottom line.
“They don’t have to go out and buy any food, so they can contribute (the saved money) to other facilities and programmes that they need to run.”
“We have so much leftover food after the shoots that it would just go to waste,” Danielle Chloe, photographer and studio manager at The Orchard Studio in Sydney’s north, told Xinhua.
But OzHarvest will not take just any food, applying strict standards to ensure it’s safe to eat.
While the bumblebee yellow vans and fuel is generously donated by key commercial partners, the charity still requires significant monetary donations to keep in operation.