One Million Dollars = One Million Meals For OzHarvest

23 Dec

Last month I posted a story called ‘Some Eat To Live & Some Live To Eat‘ and since then, I’ve been searching for a local charity that helps feed the needy. I came across OzHarvest, an Australian charity passionately founded in 2004 by Ronni Kahn after witnessing the wasteful disposal of fresh food in the hospitality industry for over 20 years. OzHarvest collects excess food from participating cafes, supermarkets, caterers, events managers, hotels, wholesalers, retailers, restaurants, delis and other licensed food providers.

The food is then delivered by OzHarvest drivers to over 200 charities across Sydney and Wollongong, 46 in Canberra and Queanbeyan, and 31 in Newcastle. These charities provide support to many individuals in need, including children and youth at risk who may have been abused or have nowhere else to go, single parents with no support, older men and women who have trouble making ends meet, those who are homeless, marginalised indigenous men, women and children, refugees looking for a better life, those who are going through drug and alcohol rehabilitation, women who are escaping domestic violence, and families with low incomes who need help to get by.

I excitedly called OzHarvest and spoke with Lisa about getting involved and helping to raise money for the charity and she kindly invited me to spend a day travelling with one of the drivers to see how they operate. I arrived at the OzHarvest head office in Alexandria on Tuesday the 23rd of November at 8.45am and was greeted by Tom’s big smile as he busily discussed pick up and delivery details with some of the drivers. Lisa came over and extended a warm hand shake and her bubbly personality was just the same as I heard over the phone. I was given a cheerfully bright, canary yellow OzHarvest shirt to wear and I was paired up with Orlando, one of the drivers who I happened to meet in the lift on the way up to the office. I got chatting with Orlando as we headed to our first pick up in Redfern.

Orlando moved to Australia from Ecuador in 1997 in his early thirties, following his uncle’s persistent recommendations and was later joined by his teenage daughter and two sons in their early twenties. Orlando is a hard worker and enjoys hitting Sydney’s salsa scene with his wife as a way of unwinding, “dancing reminds me of the good times I had in Ecuador” said Orlando. But it wasn’t always good times. Orlando recalled people in his community working hard and struggling to make a living, “there was always someone who had less then you” said Orlando. I asked Orlando if there is support like OzHarvest available in Ecuador and he said “my mother still owns a chicken shop, she’s 75 years old”.

One of Orlando’s first memories of being in Australia was ordering BBQ chicken from a chicken shop, “I wanted something that reminded me of Ecuador” said Orlando. As we loaded the truck with the first donation of the day, boxes of chocolate coated muesli bars, we agreed that we’re lucky to call Australia home. Every donation is weighed and recorded on the drivers daily run sheet.

Our next stop was a patisserie in Manly Vale to pick up pastries and bread.

Then Frenchs Forest where we collected fresh and frozen chicken, bread and potato chips to load into the refrigerated OzHarvest van followed by milk, yoghurt and beautiful vegetables from a donor in Brookvale.

As the day progressed, the van was packed with buckets of gourmet dips, fresh produce, bread and packets of potato chips.

Our first drop off was a rehabilitation home for men who require assistance to find residential housing and learn life skills to independently care for themselves. The man who greeted us was kind and gentle; and showed me around while explaining the situation of the people that stay in the house. There was a counselling session in progress in one room and a resident was having a sausage sandwich in the dining room while we brought in the boxes. The man in charge selected bread, sausages, milk, vegetables, fruit, pastries, frozen potato chips and yoghurt. Orlando offered the man some chillies and he said “we have a Filipino man stay here who cooks curries, he’ll use these”.

The next place we stopped at was filled with displays of the residents artworks that conveyed their stories of hardship, discrimination and heartache.

I headed back to the OzHarvest office and had a chat with Michelle, the general manager, about how I can get involved. It was an amazing experience to witness Sydney business owners and managers generously getting involved by donating to help the needy and save the environment at the same time.

I have setup a Facebook page, with the approval of OzHarvest management, called ‘One Million Dollars = One Million Meals For OzHarvest‘. In 2011, culinary related items and experiences such as signed cookbooks and dvds, restaurant meals, cooking classes, dine with a chef, tickets to culinary events, behind the scenes pass to view filming of a tv show or dvd production, fine food retailer vouchers, organic hampers, home delivered groceries and meals, kitchen appliances, high end cookware, potted herbs, and edible plants, glassware and tableware will be auctioned off on the Facebook page.

The winning bidder will make payment through the secure OzHarvest donation website and a tax receipt will be issued by OzHarvest.

If you would like to donate to the auction, please contact me via the Facebook page or the Gourmetician blog. Let’s raise one million dollars together! 🙂


5 Responses to “One Million Dollars = One Million Meals For OzHarvest”

  1. Simon Food Favourites December 25, 2010 at 9:58 am #

    a fantastic cause. merry christmas to all 🙂

    • Jessica Fernandez December 28, 2010 at 1:03 pm #

      Thanks for visiting Simon and for sharing your Facebook page with foodies like me 🙂 I hope you had a Merry Christmas too.


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