A Perth organisation says it is helping more than 11,000 people secure a meal each week, just by rescuing food destined for landfill.
Food Rescue’s small army of volunteers collect excess produce from supermarkets and cafes across Perth.
It is then sorted, packed and delivered to local charities.
Rob Gatani is one of the recipients.
He is currently staying with friends to help keep him off the streets.
“It’s a horrible feeling, it’s one of the worst feelings to feel hungry,” he said.
“It’s one thing not to have money in your pocket or even not to have a home, but to have no food in your stomach…
“It’s very important for me and for everybody else, we’re human after all.”
Fellow beneficiary Mark King survives on the pension and says there was not much left over once he paid his rent.
“I couldn’t afford to have roast beef and salad in the morning at my house,” he said.
“I can have cereal and things and maybe one hot meal a day on the pension but that’s all.”
Privileged society should benefit all
Food Rescue’s Julie Broad said the initiative helped more than 11,500 people secure a meal each week.
“I just saw so many people that were still struggling with hunger. There should be no one hungry, absolutely there should be no one hungry,” she said.
“We live in a privileged society, we live in a privileged area of the world.
“It makes no sense for the big supermarkets to throw their food out. It makes very good sense for them to pass over the food that is still edible and that we can pass on to the charities.
“That’s food that they would normally be unable to afford so we’re really helping people with nutritious food.”
Ms Broad said the organisation was now on target to rescue 540,000 kilograms of fresh fruit and vegetables from supermarkets this year.
Paul Forrestal is one of dozens of Food Rescue volunteers.
“It’s really good quality produce and we see a lot of the clients face to face and they said are really appreciative,” he said.
“It goes to 11 or 12 institutions around the town — Salvation Army, drop in centres, counselling centres, a place for victims of trauma and torture, a women’s refuge.
“So a range of institutions all looking after the under privileged.”
Recycling more than food
One of the charities benefitting from Food Rescue’s efforts is the Tranby Centre, which provides day support to homeless people and those who are struggling like Allan Barry.
“As soon as you’ve got a full stomach it can change your whole mindset from being depressed to being happy,” Mr Barry said.
“Just by simple bacon and eggs and a cup of coffee so yeah it’s wonderful.”
Food Rescue also removes plastic from all of the foods it receives, with the material sorted and sent to Victoria or China for recycling.
“We needed to have someone take the responsibility of the recycling of packaging and plastics,” Ms Broad said.
“It was really important for me to be the one-stop shop.”
Any spoiled food is also dealt with on site, and converted into waste water by an aerobic digester.