When nine-year-old James misses breakfast and there’s no lunch in his school bag, he knows there will be a free muesli bar, an apple and a muffin waiting for him at school. What he doesn’t know is that this food may have just flown in thousands of kilometres from another city and, although fresh and fit for consumption, would have ended up at the tip without the collaboration between airport businesses and food rescue organisation OzHarvest.
It’s the same for Lucy, who left home at 14 and has been couch surfing for a few months. When she visits the local youth service for support and stuffs her pocket with healthy treats to save for later, she has no idea they were originally intended as an inflight snack. OzHarvest Queensland state manager Amy Cobb says the organisation began collecting food from airport tenants in 2011 and the recovery of unused inflight meal items is now part of a daily food collection route.
“OzHarvest typically collects many items passengers will see on their flight trays, such as sandwiches, juice, crackers, biscuits, muffins, water, chocolates, muesli bars, breakfast cereals and fruit,” says Amy. “The food is perfect for school breakfast clubs, charities that provide food hampers and drop-in centres.”
Excess food collection
OzHarvest collects from Brisbane Airport airlines and airport catering companies including Alpha Flight Services, DHL Supply Chain, Virgin Australia via Gate Gourmet and Qantas via Dnata Catering.
The inclusion of foods such as banana bread, which can be collected but must be distributed within 24 hours, and other initiatives have seen growth in recovered food more than triple in two years.
Working behind the scenes to sort the food are 30 volunteer Airport Ambassadors who recover over two tonnes of unused, pre-flown food a year at Qantas Catering for collection by OzHarvest’s bright yellow vans. The food collected varies from crates of apples to boxes of Byron Bay cookies and our volunteers find it satisfying to know that they are saving food for people who need it.
Although OzHarvest values the excess food that they re-route to people in need, the organisation is pleased that collections from some airlines have decreased due to more sustainable ordering and catering processes that help reduce food waste.
More than 385 businesses around Brisbane donate excess food to OzHarvest which helps to create the 2,762,738 meals it delivered to 118 local charities last financial year.