This store is the first of its kind in Australia.
Australia’s first ‘rescued’ food supermarket has opened up in Sydney called OzHarvest Market and it’s very special for two reasons: it sells only rescued food and it gives food to those in need for free. Their philosophy, which can be found printed outside on either side of the entrance, is “Take What You Need, Give If You Can,” and they are open to the public and welcome donations.
OzHarvest is the leading food rescue organization in Australia and its sole purpose is to collect quality excess food from commercial outlets and deliver it to more than 900 charities across Australia that support people in need by providing food, shelter, and services. They gather food that would otherwise be destined for the landfill and have instead used it to feed the needy since 2004. OzHarvest has since delivered over 60 million meals to those in need and saved more than 20,000 tons of food from ending up as trash.
Their latest endeavor includes the supermarket, which is operated by volunteers and consists solely of food that has been ‘rescued’ from becoming another unnecessary addition to the landfill. There is no screening process to enter and shop in the supermarket, so anyone can come in and take what they need, and the market encourages donations from those who can afford it.
“The OzHarvest Market is our latest innovation to tackle food waste and eliminate hunger. It supports OzHarvest’s purpose to nourish our country, by making sure good food does not go to waste and is available to everyone,” said CEO and Founder Ronni Kahn.
OzHarvest’s NSW manager Alicia Kirwan said that the response from the community has been overwhelming and that the majority of shoppers are paying customers that are there to support the market and keep it going for those that rely on it. The market sells everything from canned goods to produce to frozen food items, surprising many shoppers with the large variety of fresh and perishable items they keep in stock. Shoppers are encouraged to take what they need only for a day or two rather than for the rest of the week in order to keep inventory as high as possible.
“We only take food that is absolutely edible. We’re … showing our consumers how insane it is that this produce has been rejected,” Kahn told Broadsheet. “All of our drivers are trained in handling, they will not accept produce if they wouldn’t eat it themselves.”
When Journalist Chris Jager from Lifehacker recently visited the store, he noted that although he visited after closing time, there was still plenty of food to choose from. Canned goods are the most highly donated items from the general public, and cash donations are given frequently as well. Though the store was only open for four hours that day, “thousands and thousands of dollars” had been donated.
The model is largely successful because of people’s generosity and a desire to help their local community. People are also able to donate their time by volunteering so that the market can also extend their hours. The space where they are located was donated by property developer TOGA and is usually a place that offers pop-up accommodations for vulnerable youth. Though this is only a pop-up store, Kahn hopes to expand and open up markets across the country to reach all corners of the nation and help as many people as possible. As for how people living in the area can help, Kahn had a few suggestions.
“There are lots of opportunities for people to get involved and give back to the local community, from volunteer hours in the market, stacking shelves and cleaning. We would love to see more OzHarvest Markets pop-up as those in the industry are inspired by TOGA’s initiative” said Ronni.