The Christmas season is synonymous with indulgence and food. We’ve all been guilty of overdoing it when it comes to shopping and catering for our celebration, and let’s not even mention the drinks!
What’s concerning about this trend is that it is estimated that over 90% of Aussies waste 25% or more of their food during the festive season.
And it doesn’t just occur with the home-consumer, but across the entire food supply chain. In a country where so many still have so little, can we keep this practice up?
FareShare is a charity that creatively and resourcefully addresses this concern, not just leading into December but all year round. As an organisation they are driven by a vision to ensure a society where food is not wasted, and no one goes hungry.
So how do they do it?
Around four million Australians experience food insecurity each year while food waste costs our economy an estimated $20 billion.
FareShare tackles this head-on by rescuing surplus, quality food from supermarkets, wholesalers, farmers and other businesses and cooking it into nutritious meals.
They do this under the pillars of Rescue – Cook – Grow – Feed.
Put simply, the FareShare team rescues food that would otherwise have been destined for landfill and turns it into meals for people in need. This is further supplemented by the vegetables harvested from FareShare’s own kitchen gardens with the help of their volunteer team. This is then distributed free via charity partners to people experiencing food poverty and unable to afford nutritious food.
Their ready-to-eat meals include curries, pastas, casseroles, soups, tagines and braises. The Melbourne kitchen also prepares a popular line of savoury pastries including sausage rolls, vegetable rolls, quiches, and egg and bacon pies. Cooking is supervised by experienced chefs in modern, commercial kitchens.
In October 2018, FareShare also opened a new production kitchen in Brisbane as part of an exciting collaboration with Foodbank. Foodbank supplies the surplus food and then FareShare turns it into balanced, ready-to-eat meals.
Cooking food at scale is key to FareShare’s ability to impact and their processes have enabled them to deliver 12,000 meals a day with a volunteer workforce. It is in this area that organisations involved in commercial food production can prove an invaluable resource.
Boomaroo has been supporting the work of FareShare for a number of years now, providing vegetable seedlings for their kitchen gardens. In 2018 Boomaroo contributed 30,000 seedlings to FareShare and increased that again to 57,000 in 2019 helping to provide added healthy nutrition to the meals of those in need.
“Boomaroo allows FareShare to grow food at scale by donating tens of thousands of plants when we need them ” explains FareShare garden Program Manager Sharni Jansen.
The kitchen gardens are cultivated by volunteers under the direction of a Kitchen Garden Manager and produce about 40 tonnes of vegetables a year. Crops grown include cabbage, cauliflower, zucchini, carrot, eggplant, pumpkin and sweet potato. All vegetables harvested in the kitchen gardens are brought back to the kitchen to be added to meals.
“Our kitchen garden program simply couldn’t do what it does without Boomaroo. With their support we’ve been able to increase the quantity of vegetables we grow by 50 per cent.”
Since they began in nearly twenty years ago, FareShare have gone from cooking 100,000 meals in their first year, to 2,011,128 meals over the last twelve months.
In Victoria, meals are handed out by more than 400 charities including soup vans, homeless shelters, women’s refuges, schools serving disadvantaged communities, and RSLs. Meals from the Brisbane kitchen are distributed by Foodbank to its existing network of charities supporting people doing it tough.
For many people, a FareShare meal will be their only meal of the day. You can help to continue to make this possible by supporting the FareShare Christmas Appeal – donate here https://fareshare-australia-inc.giveeasy.org/christmas-appeal-2019-vic
Are you able to donate excess produce, in either Melbourne or Brisbane? Please contact Lucy at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how.