The OzHarvest Story
OzHarvest was founded in 2004 by Ronni Kahn AO, after noticing the huge volume of food going to waste from her events business. Ronni did not set out to start a charity, rather just fix an obvious problem with a simple solution. Starting with one van in Sydney, she began rescuing food and delivering it to local charities.
As OzHarvest grew, Ronni and a team of pro-bono lawyers lobbied state governments to amend legislation allowing potential food donors to give their surplus food to charities without fear of liability. The Civil Liabilities Amendment Act was passed in NSW in 2005 and other states followed.
From humble beginnings, OzHarvest has become a leading food rescue organisation on a mission to ‘Nourish our Country’ by stopping good food from going to waste and delivering it to charities that help feed people in need. Our yellow vans are out and about in communities every day, collecting quality surplus food from a network of donors, including supermarkets, cafes, delis, restaurants, corporate kitchens, airlines, hotels and other food businesses.
Today, OzHarvest operates nationally with offices in Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Cairns, Canberra, Melbourne, Newcastle and Perth, and through a team of passionate volunteers in regional communities.
We are constantly looking for new ways to inspire and educate people about food waste, food security and sustainability. Through our education programs and our advocacy work, we hope to inspire others to change behaviour and help reach the national target of halving food waste by 2030.
Everyone in the OzHarvest Family is driven by the same purpose and are committed to making a difference. It’s a mammoth team effort, made up of devoted staff, passionate and like-minded partners and an ever growing ‘yellow army’ of volunteers who live and breathe our message every day.
The challenge is to create a sustainable food culture that can be shared by all which needs all of us to play our part. We believe food is just too precious to waste and every time we throw something away, it’s literally costing us the earth.
Every $1 donated allows OzHarvest to deliver two meals to people in need.
Ronni Kahn AO
Ronni Kahn AO is a South-African born Australian social entrepreneur who founded the food rescue charity OzHarvest. She is a passionate advocate and activist, renowned for disrupting the food waste landscape in Australia.
As the owner of a successful event company, Ronni saw huge volumes of food going to waste every day and soon realised she was part of the problem. Knowing that millions of people were going hungry, she knew this was something that had to be fixed. Ronni’s simple solution of taking her own surplus food to local charities quickly took off and in 2004, OzHarvest was born.
Today, OzHarvest is Australia’s leading food rescue organisation. With Ronni at the helm, a dedicated team of nearly 200 staff and more than 2500 volunteers share her
devotion for the cause. The charity has grown under Ronni’s stewardship from humble beginnings in Sydney to delivering food and educational programs across Australia and the charity’s model has been shared globally; now established in New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom.
Ronni’s quest to tackle Australia’s food waste problem makes her a lead spokesperson on the issue, appearing regularly in national media, on expert panels and in an advisory capacity to the government. She is a keynote speaker all over the world, inspiring people to find their own purpose.
Always on the lookout for new ways to innovate, Ronni started the world’s first free supermarket – the OzHarvest Market – based on a ‘take what you need give if you can’ philosophy and founded ForPurposeCo – a sustainable, social focused business to create revenue for OzHarvest.
Ronni has received various accolades recognising her achievements, most notably her appointment as Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), Boss Magazine Top 21 True Leaders, Gourmet Traveller’s Outstanding Contribution to Hospitality, Griffith University’s Doctor of the University (honoris causa) and Australian Local Hero of the Year.
Ronni’s journey in the fight against food waste became the feature of an independent film Food Fighter. Her memoir A Re-Purposed Life published by Murdoch Books Australia is available from late September 2020.