Join the yellow army
OzHarvest’s yellow food rescue vans are a familiar sight in Australia. In Newcastle and the Central Coast their dedicated local team is providing charities with food for millions of meals.
Newcastle restaurateur Neil Slater (Scratchleys, Battlesticks) had heard OzHarvest founder Ronnie Kahn speak at an event in 2010 and was so inspired he went about setting up OzHarvest in Newcastle. And the rest, as the old adage goes, is history.
Today, OzHarvest runs three rescue vans in Newcastle and one on the Central Coast. A fifth one is on order. Twenty staff members, many of them part time or casuals, and a veritable army of passionate volunteers rescue an average of 60,000 kilos of perfectly edible food per month which would have otherwise gone to landfill. Their 126 donors include Woolworths, Aldi, Costco, Harris Farm, local IGAs, KFC, Tasty Trucks and many others.
But collection is just half the harvest, and volunteers quickly sort, prepare and re-pack food for distribution to 158 local charities, including churches, men’s and women’s refuges, shelters, neighbourhood centres and schools. Soul Café is one of the recipients and has received more than 4,500 kilos of food so far – enough for over 9,000 meals. Since launching food rescue operations on the Central Coast, one million meals have been delivered locally.
It is an impressive logistical feat that the OzHarvest team run out of warehouse-like premises in Hamilton North. “We got busy with the paint brushes,” chuckles Newcastle manager Richard Stark. Functional but well-worn office equipment has been set up along the freshly painted, bright yellow walls. This is clearly a no-frills, no-fluff operation where everything is geared towards a sole purpose: providing as much food as possible to those in dire need of it.
“We are hugely grateful to David Saddington who has provided us with this space for the last six years,” Richard says. But he also admits that their greatest dream is to find bigger premises of their own. One where volunteers can do meal prep at any time of the day, for cooking classes and educational programs.
“That would make such a huge difference for us,” he says longingly.
Read more about The Yellow Army in the Summer edition of Hunter & Coastal Lifestyle Magazine or subscribe here.
To learn more about OzHarvest, go to ozharvest.org,
Story by Cornelia Schulze, photos courtesy of OzHarvest