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OzHarvest Canberra

Thank you, Madam Speaker. I wish to say a few words about OzHarvest Canberra. Last Thursday we all had an opportunity to learn more about this fantastic charity as we enjoyed delicious soups, mains and a variety of cakes served up in Civic Square – all for a gold-coin donation.

OzHarvest is a brilliant example of what happens when community-minded people see an opportunity to contribute towards a just and humane society and, instead of waiting for someone else to act, use their resources and personal initiative to get things done. In this case, the person is Ronni Kahn, who after 20 years on an Israeli kibbutz, realised that she was too independent for communal living and too tired of endless poverty, and migrated to Sydney.

In Australia, Kahn realised she was also too strong-willed to be someone else’s employee and soon owned three florist shops before becoming a successful events planner. It was in this role that food wastage first started to trouble her. The best way to judge the success of a catered event, she said, was by the amount of leftovers. In her words, ‘It showed that we completely had catered enough’.

But she hated throwing away perfectly good food. As a lifelong volunteer, she knew that thousands of people in Australia face food insecurity each day. And as a successful business owner, she was in the perfect position to do something about it.

Kahn and a team of pro-bono lawyers successfully lobbied four Australian jurisdictions, including the ACT, to amend legislation to allow businesses to donate surplus food to charitable organisations, and OzHarvest was born. It is now the leading food-rescue organisation in Australia.

OzHarvest Canberra has been in operation since 2008, collecting surplus fresh food, prepared meals and bakery items and delivering them to over 60 local charities. In a typical week, they rescue between nine and ten tonnes of food, and they estimate that over the past nine years, they have provided nearly two million meals to hungry Canberrans – an indication, Madam Speaker, of how much hidden hunger actually exists in our territory.

Endless cost-of-living increases in the ACT will only lift the value of what OzHarvest Canberra does to serve the forgotten people. Beyond feeding the needy, OzHarvest also provides nutrition education to vulnerable Australians and trains disadvantaged youth so that they can earn certificates in hospitality.

OzHarvest Canberra accepts food donations only from businesses, but I strongly encourage individuals to donate money and/or time. Every dollar donated helps them deliver two meals to needy Canberrans, and volunteers are needed to assist with many related tasks.

I am pleased that OzHarvest Canberra has recently been chosen by the Vikings Group, a proud member of Clubs ACT, as their charity of the year. Vikings chefs cooked the delicious food that we enjoyed last week, and the Vikings Group will be actively supporting OzHarvest Canberra over the next twelve months.

I am personally grateful for all that OzHarvest Canberra does. I am likewise grateful to the members and supporters of the Vikings Group who each year lend their collective support to a worthy charity. And though it is be impossible to name them all, I am especially grateful to the nearly 70 other charities that use the food from OzHarvest Canberra to provide the hungry in Canberra with both life-sustaining meals and face-to-face interaction.

Thank you.

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