A new initiative by Bega Valley Shire Council will divert food destined for landfill and give it to people truly in need.
Many businesses kicked off Nourish & Flourish’s television, radio and social media campaign on Sunday, 18 July, including Wild Rye’s, Eden IGA, Pambula Fruit Market, Coles, Woolworths, Club Sapphire and Farm on the Green.
They are among a growing number of Bega Valley businesses reducing food waste by donating their unsold and surplus food to the community.
Matt Crossley, from Wild Rye’s in Pambula, says his business does everything it can to keep good food out of landfill.
“Each week we donate food that might not be cosmetically beautiful, or is excess to what our customers need, to community pantries and other local charities,” he said.
“It’s so easy to do. It’s such a great feeling when the truck leaves to distribute this food to a good cause rather than have it go into a rubbish truck and to landfill.”
The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment says Australians waste around 7.3 million tonnes of food each year.
This equals approximately 300kg per person, or one in every five bags of groceries.
Food waste costs the Australian economy around $20 billion each year and accounts for more than five per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The term used to describe whether an individual can access food in the quantity and quality needed to live a healthy life is ‘food insecurity’, according to a 2020 report from the Australian Institute of Family Studies.
The report estimates between four and 13 per cent of the general population are food insecure, as well as 22 to 32 per cent of the Indigenous Australian population, depending on location.
Bega Valley Shire Council project officer Sarah Eastman said Nourish & Flourish supports community pantries in Eden, Merimbula and Bega.
“This project addresses three separate issues: what to do with surplus food, connecting the people who need it with more affordable food, and a landfill site that is filling up too fast,” she said.
“We are so proud of the way our shire looks after people in need while working hard to reduce what goes into landfill.
“This is already evident through other council programs such as FOGO [food organics and garden organics] for Business, and we’re rapt to take that even further with Nourish & Flourish by capturing food while it’s still good to eat and distributing it to people in need.”
Ms Eastman said council also wants to work with producers, farmers and dairy goods manufacturers.
“People can even get involved at home – next time you’re doing a pantry cleanout or if your veggie patch gives too much for you and your neighbours to eat, please get in touch,” she said.
Any business with surplus food can be part of the initiative, including supermarkets, bakeries, butchers, grocers, cafes and restaurants.
Participation in Nourish & Flourish is free. You can sign up on Bega Valley Shire Council’s website.