Ronni Kahn’s four-point plan to halve our annual $20 billion food waste bill
Ronni Kahn calls it her lightbulb moment.
The former corporate events manager had just put on a lavish spread for 1,000 people, with all the abundance and generosity you would want.
- Food waste is costing Australia $20 billion annually
- 5.3 tonnes of food is thrown out each year
- A campaigner has launched the “look, buy, store, cook” strategy
- The Government has released a plan to halve food waste
Then she saw the aftermath: thousands of kilograms of good food going straight into the dumpster out back.
“I felt sick. Totally horrible,” she said.
That was in the early 2000s.
Fast-forward 14 years and Ms Kahn is now the proud founder of OzHarvest — one of Australia’s largest food rescue charities that collects excess food from commercial outlets and delivers it to more than 1,000 charities around the country.
Ronni Kahn has travelled the world to preach her food waste message. (Supplied: Livia Giacomini)
“I told everybody I was going to start a food rescue organisation, and they just came on board,” Ms Kahn said.
“We all know it’s the right thing to do. We have all been told this.
“At some point in our lives someone has said to us, eat your food because someone is starving somewhere.”
Measuring the waste
Australia’s food waste figures speak for themselves.
The Federal Government estimates more than 5.3 million tonnes of edible food is wasted from households and the commercial sector each year.
This costs the Australian economy $20 billion annually.
At the same time, the latest FoodBank Hunger Report found 3.6 million Australians experienced food insecurity last year, and more than 650,000 people receive some sort of food relief each month.
In response, the Federal Government has launched its National Food Waste Strategy, which aims to halve our waste by 2030.
A new independent body will be formed to look at how technology and education can help, and more than $1.3 million has been pledged to make change happen.
“Solving the problem of food waste requires a commitment from all Australians,” Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg wrote in the strategy paper.
But Ms Kahn isn’t holding her breathe on the strategy, and has instead started her own awareness campaign that she hopes can mimic the success of the “slip, slop, slap” motto.
Look. Buy. Store. Cook.
“We’re asking everyone to join the movement. It’s very simple, we need to look, buy, store and cook,” Ms Kahn said.
It breaks down like this:
- LOOK at what’s in your fridge and pantry before going shopping for more;
- BUY only what you need. So make a shopping list;
- STORE that food properly, so it doesn’t go off too soon; and,
- COOK it and also the leftovers.
“By joining the campaign, we’ll be sending out tips, we’ll be sharing how to make the most and how each and every one of us can actually save,” Ms Kahn said.
The campaign is being launched to coincide with the new film, Food Fighter, which documents Ms Kahn’s global crusade against food waste.
Food Fighter was filmed over two years across four continents. It puts the spotlight on major supermarkets and their waste, and the political action that has — and hasn’t — been taken on the issue.
Ms Kahn hopes people will appreciate the “scale of loss” of food after seeing the film and change their behaviour.
“People know it’s the right thing to do and now they need to understand the choices they make and how each and every one of us can make an impact,” she said.