Food on the table is often taken for granted, yet 3.6 million Australians have experienced food insecurity in the last year, including many in the Hunter.
In response to this issue, Federal Member for Hunter Joel Fitzgibbon and his team are supporting OzHarvest’s Christmas Appeal.
OzHarvest is Australia’s leading food rescue organisation, collecting from commercial outlets and delivering it directly to more than 1000 charities across the country.
Mr Fitzgibbon met the OzHarvest team in Cessnock during the van’s regular delivery to Cessnock Samaritans to speak with OzHarvest Newcastle Manager Monique Maguire about the incredible service they provide the Hunter community.
The OzHarvest van visits Cessnock and the Hunter Valley twice a week to rescue quality, excess food from local supermarkets and restaurants and then delivers to local charities supporting people in need. In a perfect cycle, the big yellow van departs the Newcastle depot empty and returns empty. The Hunter OzHarvest van collects on average 600 kilograms of food a week, ultimately rescuing it from land fill.
“While most of us see Christmas as a happy and joyous time, sadly too many in our community do it tough over the Christmas break,” Federal Member for Hunter Joel Fitzgibbon said.
“My team and I support a Christmas charity every year and in 2017 we’re supporting OzHarvest. The innovative organisation does wonderful work recovering food waste and delivering the quality product to people who need it most.”
This year’s Christmas Appeal means for every $1 donation, OzHarvest can deliver two meals to people in need this Christmas. A $25 donation will provide 50 meals and $50 provides a week’s worth of meals for a family.
“Donations can be made by buying an OzHarvest donation token at Woolworths or via the www.ozharvest.org website. Businesses can also coordinate a Christmas food drive and organise for us to collect donations in time for Christmas,” OzHarvest Newcastle Manager Monique Maguire said.
Samaritans Cessnock is one of the organisations that has received food from OzHarvest and has done for the past five years. Samaritans repacks the food and makes sure it gets to the people most in need. Each month the local office assists between 180-200 people. Samaritans is also running a ‘Give the Gift of Joy’ campaign this Christmas to raise awareness of the vulnerable people across the Hunter region who may otherwise may not be able to celebrate the festive season.
Another of OzHarvest’s core areas of focus is reducing food waste, something that becomes particularly relevant around Christmas time.
More than a third of household bin waste is food waste yet 60 per cent is avoidable. In Australia it’s estimated food waste costs more than $20 billion each year.
“One in five shopping bags becomes food waste. We really want people this Christmas to think about food waste and how they can reduce it in their own homes. The easiest way to do that is to plan what you are going to eat, write a list and stick to the list,” Monique Maguire said.
For more information, visit www.ozharvest.org.