One of the most disturbing things is to think of the many people all around the world going to bed hungry each day. None of us have ever known real hunger. We use the expression “I’m starving” all too lightly. But for 1 billion people on our planet this is a daily reality. In 2013 Caritas launched the One Human Family, Food for All campaign worldwide to work towards ending hunger by 2025. On that occasion Pope Francis said:
“I invite you to make space in your heart for this emergency of respecting the God-given rights of everyone to have access to adequate food. We share what we have in Christian charity with those who face numerous obstacles to satisfy such a basic need. This campaign is also an invitation to all of us to become more conscious in our food choices, which often lead to waste and a poor use of the resources available to us. It is also a reminder to stop thinking that our daily actions do not have an impact on the lives of those who suffer from hunger first-hand”.
Below is a very powerful reflection by Isabella Mincher of Year 9 after she and a group of Year 9 students were challenged and moved by learning of the work of OzHarvest and the disturbing statistics of food wastage.
Ms Kerry McCullough
Dean of Mission
On the 17th of May, eight year nines, including myself, and our Social Justice Captain Rachel Parsons, along with Ms McCullough, attended the Abbotsleigh Breakfast Club. The topic for the day was “nourishing our country through food rescue and meaningful action”, and we were lucky enough to hear Louise Tran speak about OzHarvest, Australia’s only “food rescue” organisation that collects excess food from commercial outlets and delivers it to charities across the country.
From the beginning of the morning, our eyes were opened. First off, we were shown a video featuring people like you and me, as a way to immediately break down the stereotypes surrounding those who seek help from OzHarvest. Ms Tran also shared her family’s story of being refugees and travelling to Australia, and the help they received. Although we hadn’t quite yet gotten to the ideas of food rescue, we were already being shown in another way how important the practice of food rescue is.
As Louise went on, she told us about the four pillar program at OzHarvest – to rescue, therefore eliminating hunger and food waste; to educate, and by doing so creating awareness about food wastage and sustainability; to engage, creating and embracing community support for those who need it; and finally to innovate, to find new ways to combat food waste and hunger, and to mobilise Australians to take meaningful action. She also detailed the goals of their programs NEST and Nourish, which aim to educate people on nutritious eating and food preparation skills, and to employ vulnerable youth in the hospitality industry, respectively.
Although the achievements of Oz Harvest are indeed something to celebrate, some of the facts were rather shocking. The fact that, globally, 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted per year, and that 4 million tonnes in Australia alone is wasted – along with an average of $1 000 dollars per household per year. I could only think of the impact this would have on our environment – think of the resources wasted! – the difference that this food could make to developing countries that currently can’t feed their population, and how this issue is present in our school today, from the wrapped food left on the playground to the excess of food from the canteen. And the problem is, I was not that aware of the detrimental effects of food wastage – and I can’t be the only one. How can we seek to improve if this knowledge is not known or shared?
Overall, this breakfast was a truly eye opening morning, with many possible solutions coming up. The possibility of using OzHarvest in boarding schools, for one. But as a much simpler idea, being aware of the amount of food we purchase, and even more aware of the food we don’t use. Being aware of how we may be able to reuse this food, possibly in other food creations. And finally, being aware of how we can take action against food wastage, even if it is as simple as eating all the food we take for lunch, or not buying that extra item from the supermarket “just in case”. Together, we can reduce food wastage, and by supporting food rescue, reduce the hunger of those who go without. Together, we can “nourish our country through meaningful action”.
A big thank you to Ms McCullough for this amazing opportunity, and to Abbotsleigh for hosting this event. I am sure it is not only me whose mind has been opened to this issue so present in our world today.
Isabella Mincher , Year 9