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Meals are much more than calories

WORLD Food Day, an initiative of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, aims to tackle and eradicate hunger worldwide, is celebrated globally on October 16.

According to a government paper Identifying and responding to food insecurity in Australia released in 2020, estimates suggest between 4 per cent and 13 per cent of the general population and 22 to 32 per cent of the Indigenous population, depending on location, experienced food insecurity.

Food insecurity is being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.

FareShare, a not-for-profit organisation, rescues surplus food and cooks free, nutritious meals in Australia’s largest charity kitchens for people doing it tough.

They work with food businesses that donate surplus food, such as Woolworths supermarkets, manufacturers, importers and farmers.

FareShare can mobilise and co-ordinate more than 100 volunteers a day to produce 8,000 to 10,000 meals per day for local charities to distribute to people experiencing food insecurity.

Marcus Godinho, FareShare’s CEO, breaks down food insecurity into two parts.

“There are those genuinely going hungry and those who can’t afford and aren’t eating nutritiously,” he said.

For example, Mr Godinho suggests a woman fleeing family violence with her kids and staying in a motel room with a microwave and a bar fridge would find it very difficult to cook a nutritious and delicious meal for the family.

“What we do is cook a meal that can be served on a plate, that is nutritious, tasty and looks good and that the kids will eat,” he said.

“Just like the ready to eat meals you get in the supermarket but provided by a charity.”

The same type of meal could be provided to a homeless person sleeping rough.

“If they have a camp stove, they could heat the meal [but] I have heard that convenience store’s microwaves are sometimes used, or they could eat it cold,” he said.

Another instance Mr Godinho mentioned is of an 85-year-old man living in rural Victoria, whose wife of more than 60 years has died, and he has never cooked a meal in his life.

“He was living on toast and baked beans until a charity supplied him with FareShare meals,” he said.

“[Also] for those families doing it tough financially, who have a kitchen and a roof over their heads and some food they can cook themselves, FareShare can supplement what they have been able to purchase, with creative and innovative meals cooked with the food we collect from all donors.”

Ensuring that people have access to food is more than just cooking and eating.

“It is not just about filling empty tummies, it is about mental health, esteem, dignity and so much more,” Mr Godinho said.

Fareshare’s mission is a society where food is not wasted, and no one goes hungry.

Ironically, another food rescue organisation OzHarvest reports Australian households generate 2.5 million tonnes of wasted food each year, accounting for 60 per cent of food waster.

OzHarvest has recently launched Use it Up, a new campaign featuring product innovation designed to make it easy to waste less at home.

Ronni Kahn AO, founder and CEO at OzHarvest, said Australia’s national target to halve food waste by 2030 is looming fast, and change is urgently needed.

“We cannot watch what’s happening to our planet and wait for others to fix this,” Ms Kahn said.

 “Tackling household food waste is the low hanging fruit and where we can get results fast.

“People are blown away when they learn the number one thing they can do to take climate action starts right now in their kitchen.”

St Kilda’s Sacred Heart Mission feeds 400 people a day with a nourishing meal in their Dining Hall, offering an opportunity to their guests not just to eat but also to connect within their community.

In celebration of World Food Day, the Mission has posted online its Dining Hall Dahl recipe encouraging people to “cook this meal at your home, and share this feeling of connectedness with us from afar.”

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Carol Saffer

Carol Saffer is an award-winning journalist enthusiastic about creating copy that engages audiences. She is curious by nature, possesses a growth mindset and thrives on new and unusual challenges. Carol has experience as a reporter for various regional Victorian newspapers and writing for Business Day in The Age. Her previous career was in the fashion industry, and she holds post-graduate degrees in business and journalism.

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