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Byron Shire
April 1, 2023

54 tonnes of ‘thrown out’ food now being made into meals

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Members of ETC and the Food Recovery Project with some of the fresh food that would once have been thrown away. Photo supplied

Each week day, two refrigerated vans are making their way across the region rescuing and delivering food to disadvantaged people.

Traveling to North Coast supermarkets and collecting food that would have otherwise gone to landfill, the vans bring these items back to communities in Evans Head, Grafton, Kyogle, Mullumbimby and Nimbin as part of the Food Recovery North Coast project run by the  Consortium of Neighbourhood Centres – Far North Coast (CONC).

Food Recovery Coordinator Michelle Burns said since the project commenced in July last year, they’ve rescued close to 54 tonnes of food products.

‘We’ve done around 60,000kms already – it’s incredible the amount of people we’ve been able to feed. We couldn’t have done this without the support of our sponsors,’ Ms Burns said.

‘Funding from the NSW Environmental Trust covered the cost of the vans and kitchen infrastructure while a $19,800 grant from the ETC Community Support Fund will support the operation and maintenance of the vans for the next financial year (servicing, maintenance, on-road operational costs).’

Mullum’s tasty meals

The Mullumbimby community in particular has seen a positive change with an increase in people’s overall health and wellbeing.

Mullumbimby Neighbourhood Centre Volunteer Mel Williams said, ‘Initially we had a community lunch here just one day per week, which quite often was just a pot of boiled vegetables, as we didn’t have a lot to choose from.

‘We wanted to improve the service so our Centre joined with other Centres across the region for the Food Recovery Program,’ she said.

‘Since that was implemented, we’ve been able to dramatically increase the number of people we’re feeding (now between 50-80), lunch has gone from just one pretty average lunch to a gourmet lunch, four days a week.’

‘We would have to call ambulances quite often in past years due to malnutrition, whereas this year we’ve only had to call them once. Businesses in the local area have also said they’ve noticed a big change in what goes on in their shops. I love the joy I’m seeing from people – eating together and eating well,’ Mel said.

ETC Deputy Chair Lorraine Penn said it was a pleasure to be able to support the project.

‘The ETC Community Support Fund is designed to help organisations reduce disadvantage, generate opportunity, increase support services and/or build capacity in the communities in which we operate,’ Ms Penn said.

For more information about Food Recovery North Coast visit www.foodrecovery.org.au or https://www.facebook.com/foodrecovery.org.au/


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  1. This is an excellent result
    Thank you to the operators and the supply line No useable food items should end up as landfill

  2. I read where the average Aussie household wastes aprox $3800 worth of food each year.
    Australia alone wastes $20 billion of food each year and performs worse than the global average by wasting up to 40% of the food we produce. Over 1400 gigalitres of water is wasted producing this food we throw away.

  3. this is a fantastic initiative.. waste not want not. I fully applaud the good people that run this service
    However I find very worrying that so many people are forced to turn to food donations to survive these days.
    I really do not think that having increasing numbers of people reliant on charity due to inadequate social security support is a healthy thing for society.

    Meantime we wasting our taxes on corporate welfare and the people are left wanting …
    We need to fix this problem ASAP.


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