Rescuing rejects for reuse
A KNOBBLY misshapen cucumber, still firm and fresh, is overlooked again and again by weekend shoppers under the bright lights of a supermarket.
Eventually tossed into a box for disposal, it is among the 2000kg of fresh but otherwise unwanted produce.
These goods are collected by paid Food Rescue drivers, who fill their refrigerated trucks from the loading docks of Perth’s Coles.
The fruits, vegetables, eggs and meat spend Monday night in the cool rooms of a Belmont warehouse.
On Tuesday morning, volunteers like Alfred Cove’s Penelope Jackson arrive to sort the good from the bad and repack boxes to the specific needs of Food Rescue’s 62 charities.
She trims wilted leaves from firm beetroots, removes a soft edge from a watermelon and adds vegetables to the box that now houses that blemished cucumber.
“I used to work as a midwife, and I retired but my husband and I do a lot of volunteer work,” she tells Southern Gazette.
She has volunteered there since Food Rescue opened in 2011 under the umbrella of UnitingCare West.
Food Rescue is sub-con- tracted by Second Bite which collects discarded produce from Coles supermarkets over east.
Mt Lawley resident Rod Lewis arrives before noon to deliver repacked boxes to their destinations.
Thanks to this collective effort, the 2000kg collected last Monday night were transformed into 4000 meals by Perth charities by Tuesday night.
Last Thursday Miss Galaxy state finalist Alicia Van Schoonhoven, of Dianella, also helped sort boxes. Food Rescue’s Julie Broad, who runs the charity with Lyndon Nilsson, said Afghan refugees at- tended on Fridays to help sort and pack the produce.
In total, 107 volunteers move food from supermarket shelves to charity kitchens three times a week.
Food Rescue’s latest initiative, the Cargo Cart service, traverses CBD streets to collect about 1700 left- over cafe sandwiches, wraps and rolls per fortnight for various shelters.
But there is so much more food to be ‘rescued’, according to Ms Broad.
She said more vans were needed and explained it cost about $80,000 to buy and fit out a van and about $5000 annually in fuel.
Denise Armstrong of South Perth and Miss Galaxy Australia 2015 WA State Finalist Alicia Van Schoonhoven of Dianella.