Have you ever wondered where all of the food that is leftover from an event or restaurant goes once it isn’t used? Unfortunately, most of it ends up in the trash, headed for a landfill. In Australia, one in ten people currently rely on help from welfare organizations, which means that every year, 2 million people in Australia depend on hunger relief. Over half of these people are children. Thankfully, there is an organization working to alleviate this problem by supporting communities to relieve food poverty. FareShare began in 2001 as the result of a shared vision between a broad group of individuals. Steven Kolt, who started “Melbourne City Harvest”, merged with a group called “One Umbrella”, which included six individuals who had also dedicated themselves to rescuing food. With funding from Jewish Aid Australia a full time manager was employed and the group set out to achieve their milestones, including lobbying for the first Australian Good Samaritan Law, purchasing a refrigerated van for food transport, and moving into purpose built kitchen.
When FareShare first started in 2001, they were giving away 22,000 meals. Their work has now grown to serving over one million meals in 2010. FareShare achieved this milestone with the help of an innovative iPad application. The application was developed by volunteers and employees of FareShare and is used to alert the organization’s drivers by alerting chefs about what has been collected ahead of its delivery. This effectively reduces the charity’s paper trail, improves monitoring and reporting and increases efficiency.
In addition to the potentially life saving role that FareShare plays, there are also considerable environmental benefits. A November article in TreeHugger discussed a study conducted by Hyder Consulting Group entitled “Sustainability Gains Through the Recovery of Unsold or Off-specification food.” The Hyder Group determined that FareShare’s food recovery activities from 2008-1009 resulted in the avoided emissions of 620 tonnes of greenhouse gases. This food recovery also saves landfill disposal equal to the annual generation of 730 households.
If you would like to help out FareShare, they are currently seeking the donation of four 16g iPads for their warehouse team. Their volunteer programmer, John Wilson, has designed an online system for us so that FareShare’s drivers can send information straight back to the warehouse whenever they collect or deliver food. This helps to keep deliveries up to date.
Supporting groups like FareShare, means helping those in need enjoy a meal they would otherwise not have access to.