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Australia's First Rescued Food Supermarket is a Win-win for the Planet and Those in Need.

Date: 05-May-17
Author: Elise Catterall

The Rescued Food Supermarket in Kensington, Sydney © Fiona Nearn

The Rescued Food Supermarket in Kensington, Sydney

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.

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  1. OzHarvest
  2. Foodbank Hunger Report 2016
  3. Minister Frydenberg – Media Release – Pre Food Waste Roundtable
  4. ThinkEatSave


Elise                                             Catterall
Author: Elise Catterall

Elise is a writer, photographer, and naturopath with a passion for nature. She completed a Master of Public Health in 2017 through the University of Sydney. Her photographic work focuses on flowers and plants as a way of celebrating nature. She has been writing for Planet Ark since 2017, sharing positive environment stories, personal environmental experiences and perspectives.

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