The ongoing impact of the pandemic has seen food insecurity hit an all-time high in communities across Victoria, with many people experiencing hardships never faced before. OzHarvest Melbourne has rallied to meet the increasing demand for food, reaching their 20 million meal milestone in food rescue operations with a delivery to local charity, Fitzroy Soup Van.
OzHarvest State Manager for Victoria, Bernardo Tobias explained that in just eight years, the Melbourne-based team has saved more than 5,700 tonnes of surplus food from ending up in landfill and redirected it to help feed locals in need.
“Our yellow vans are on the road every week delivering good food to charities, schools and community groups to help those most at risk across Melbourne and other regional areas. Demand for our services has gone through the roof, as so many people are turning to charities for the first time in their lives. We have purchased food for the first time in our history and introduced new emergency food relief which supports 180 charities. We’re currently delivering around 120,000 meals a week.
“20 million meals is a major milestone which is the result of a huge community effort, including amazing OzHarvest drivers, the team in the office, our incredible yellow army of over 400 volunteers, and ongoing support from corporate partners, food donors and of course the charities we support.”
Melissa Walton, State President of Vinnies Victoria’s Soup Vans, was on hand to receive delivery of the 20 millionth meal and explained how OzHarvest has been providing over two tonnes of nutritious quality food every week for over seven years.
“Vinnies’ inner-city Soup Van hub operates 365 days a year rain, hail or shine, providing more than 6,500 meals to people experiencing homelessness or doing it tough in the City of Melbourne and City of Yarra. Unfortunately, healthy food is not always an affordable option for many people, but thanks to OzHarvest, we are able to offer a range of fresh produce to those we serve, which is always well received.”
OzHarvest Melbourne relies on regular food donations from more than 473 local businesses, including National Food Rescue Partner Woolworths who provide a regular supply of fresh and nutritious food to help feed people in need across the region.
Sarah Gooding, Woolworths Victoria General Manager, said, “As today’s fresh food people, our passion and respect for food is an essential part of who we are, and what we do. Our commitment to identify and divert surplus fresh food to OzHarvest for local charities like the Fitzroy Soup Van, who help feed those in need, is a great example of how a little good everyday can make a big difference.”