What has a computer vision tech company got to do with fresh produce waste? Well, because we work within the supermarket industry, we get through a lot of groceries and have lots of left-over fruit and veg.
However, we don't want to add to the growing problem of food waste. So our teams in Australia, Germany and the US have been giving back by donating bags of fresh groceries to local food relief charities. While it's only the start and just a small contribution to a big problem, we're looking forward to growing our relationships with food relief and rescue charities in the community.
A global effort to address food waste issues
Did you know that a third of all food produced globally is lost or wasted? That's around 1.3 billion tonnes of food. In fact, almost half of all fruit and veg go to waste, equating to a massive 3.7 trillion apples alone. These global figures are shocking and cut across developing and developed countries. Here is Australia, food is wasted across the supply chain, from homes, farms and the food industry, including retail stores.
Critically, this food waste issue occurs alongside some very sobering statistics on hunger. Fifteen per cent of Australians have experienced food insecurity at least once in the last years.
Fortunately, numerous food rescue and food relief charities are working together to address the double issue of wasted food and hunger. These organisations are doing vital work to address a massive problem. The food rescue organisations collect unsold or unconsumed food from retailers, restaurants and the community and provide vital fresh produce donations to those feeding people in need. People who would otherwise not have access to something many of us take for granted — a decent meal. Here are some organisations working in their regions to address food waste and show the best of humanity at the same time.
The RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology) FoodShare Program opened in 2015 to meet the needs of students, faculty and staff. Food donations from the community have been filling the shelves since then, plus financial donations and food from campus events that would otherwise go to waste. The program unites different parts of the RIT community, including the Student Government, RIT Office of Sustainability, RIT Residence Life and the School of Communication, using a Facebook page for people to post when there is free food available for students to collect. A fab initiative addressing food insecurity, RIT Foodshare has already received 7000 donated items.
Strohhalm is a meeting place for the homeless and needy in the Keplerstrasse in Regensburg, Germany, welcoming anyone in need. With the goal that "Nobody in Regensburg has to go hungry, cold or dirty!" more than 50 hard-working people volunteering for Strohhalm, plus regular donors who make sure there is enough good food to eat for those in need.
Australia - OzHarvest
Ronni Kahn AO noticed the huge volume of food waste ending up in landfills across Australia. So in 2004, she founded OzHarvest, which is now Australia's leading food rescue organisation. OzHarvest delivers food donations to charities that help people in need. Their dedicated and passionate staff and volunteers are driven to create a 'sustainable food culture', and the organisation is committed to halving food waste by 2030. Every $1 donated to OzHarvest goes directly to delivering two meals a day to those who need it most.
Australia - Foodbank
Foodbank is another of Australia's largest food relief organisations, providing more than 70% of the food rescued for food-relief charities across Australia. According to Foodbank, Australia wastes $20 million of food, and the organisation addresses that issue by re-purposing 37 million kg of food that's destined for landfill. This not only feeds people in need but also saves more than 81 million kg of CO2 emissions per year.
Foodbank works with major food and grocery retailers in Australia to make sure they identify and prioritise food rescue opportunities. It's also part of the Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre, which focusses on tackling food insecurity.
What can you do to help?
When you work at, partner with, or use Tiliter, you're working with a company that thinks beyond the tech and seeks to have a positive impact in the broader community. Please reach out to your local food relief organisation and see what you can do to help.