Turning rescued food into edible goodness

Perth, 25 Oct 2015

With four million tonnes of food ending up in Australia’s landfill every year and two million people still relying on food relief, the disconnect is obvious. One solution is perishable food rescue organisation OzHarvest

Founded in 2004, OzHarvest collects quality excess food that would otherwise be discarded from restaurants, retailers, food outlets and corporate kitchens. OzHarvest delivers it free of charge to 700 charities working with disadvantaged people in most of Australia’s major cities. 

The service enables charities to provide high quality food to their clients and redirect their funding to core services. The environment is also helped through the reduction in unused food ending up in landfill, ensuring tons of carbon emissions do not pollute the atmosphere.

As a founding partner of OzHarvest, Macquarie has provided more than $2 million in funding, as well as access to a range of skills within Macquarie. Senior Macquarie staff have joined OzHarvest’s board and other staff have provided pro bono support.

Matching support for staff donations and fundraising continues and OzHarvest regularly collects surplus food from Macquarie’s kitchens.

Part team bonding and part fundraising, many Macquarie staff across Australia have also participated in OzHarvest’s unique ‘Cooking for a Cause’ classes.

A team of budding chefs from Macquarie’s Perth office recently participated in a Cooking for a Cause class. Lachlan Stretton, one of the event organisers, said cooking a variety of meals from scratch using rescued food was a fun experience. “Fifteen of us from the Perth office got together to fundraise and cook for OzHarvest. We were split up into two teams and used a commercial kitchen. We cooked for over three hours, which resulted in 130 people being fed that night.”

Together with a professional chef and other volunteers, OzHarvest’s Operations Manager in Western Australia, Candis Fraser, supported the Macquarie group in their making of corn fritters, cous cous, ragu, ricotta gnocchi and more.

"A few of the Macquarie staff came to the class from meetings wearing a shirt and tie and not really knowing what to expect,” Fraser said. “As soon as they put on their bright yellow OzHarvest aprons, everything changed. They went from corporate environment mode to a more interactive and fun environment. It was great to see everyone work as a team to get the job done and have some fun along the way.” 

Stretton agrees: "The cooking class which had all levels of staff, enabled a team atmosphere and broke down the barriers. I saw graduates teaching senior staff how to cook. It was a great team bonding experience.”

Prepared meals were delivered to Hope Community Services, which provides services to people whose lives have been affected by drug and alcohol use. 

“We provide the meals and rescued food to various organisations,” says Fraser. “But this time Hope were the recipients and they were thrilled as it was the first time we had donated any Cooking for a Cause meals to them. They made great use of the more than 100 meals to support individuals and families locally.”

A team of 21 Macquarie staff in Sydney also participated in a Cooking for a Cause class as part of Foundation Week. The result was over 200 nutritious meals delivered to Rough Edges in Darlinghurst, which provides a range of services to homeless people.

Image caption: Cooking for a Cause participants in Perth getting tips from OzHarvest’s professional chef.