If you believe good food shouldn’t go to waste, then you will appreciate Ronni Kahn’s mission.
I had the privilege of meeting and photographing Ronni for an exhibition at the Museum of Australian Democracy (MoAD) in Canberra in 2011. Ronni and the whole crew were moved to ‘feel good’ tears as she told us her story.
In the process of questioning the purpose of her life, Ronni visited a friend and mentor in South Africa, and went to visit an aids clinic in Soweto her friend had set-up. As they travelled through the city her friend mentioned she was responsible for electricity in Soweto. To this news, Ronni thought “Wow, what must it feel like to know you have made an impact to over 1 million people?” Once she saw the Aids Clinic, Ronni knew her life would never be the same, she knew she wanted to make a significant contribution to society.
Ronni had been in the event industry and experienced first hand the food wastage from events. On occasions, she would hand deliver her left over food to charities and always felt good about doing so but with the concern about food wastage and people going hungry in Australia she thought there must be a better way. She then set-up the food rescue charity OzHarvest and had food legislation changed throughout the country enabling her to do this.
Food rescue is not the half eaten sandwich, it’s the food that has never touched the plate! The food which is left over in the kitchen or on the shelves that wasn’t sold before closing time or the excess food left over from an event, meeting in a boardroom or catering on a film shoot for example.
“Food is so much more than just filling our tummies, it’s about nutrition, it’s about nourishment, it’s about caring, it’s about support”
The second impact of OzHarvest’s contribution to Australia and the world, Ronni could never have imagined is for every kilogram of food OzHarvest rescues, saves 2kg in methane gas and 143 litres of water. To date they have saved over 15 million kilograms of food that was destined for landfill.
OzHarvest collects good quality food from over 2000 commercial outlets and delivers it to over 800 charities with their fleet of 30+ highly visible yellow vans and has fed more than 45 million meals to people in need across most of Australia.
“In our society and our wonderful democracy of Australia, I think that individuals have the opportunity every single day to find a way in their lives to make a difference” stresses Ronni. This week is National Volunteer Week and Ronni knows only too well the value of volunteers in our society and the unlimited personal rewards volunteers receive when they volunteer.
“Not a day goes by where I don’t feel moved or blessed by the impact OzHarvest has had.”
It’s no surprise Ronni Kahn was named ‘Australian Local Hero’ in the 2010 Australian Of The Year Awards.