Por­trait of a waste war­rior

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - INSIDER -

“STILL no bloody yo­ghurt!”

OzHar­vest founder Ronni Kahn has lit­er­ally moved moun­tains — of food that would oth­er­wise have ended up in land­fill. But the glacial pace of bu­reau­cratic change, com­pounded by po­lit­i­cal in­er­tia, is enough to test even her for­mi­da­ble stamina.

While Khan’s char­ity has so far res­cued 270,000 sur­plus Qan­tas meals for re­dis­tri­bu­tion to the needy, the air­line’s cater­ers still dump all their dairy prod­ucts be­cause of li­a­bil­ity jit­ters.

The “ac­ci­den­tal” ac­tivist’s frus­tra­tion is pal­pa­ble.

When OzHar­vest was founded in 2004 the char­ity had one food van. Eleven years later, when Food Fighter be­gan film­ing, that num­ber had swelled to 34.

As she tells it, the for­mer event plan­ner (in­set, be­low) had an epiphany in the early noughties at a par­tic­u­larly lav­ish $500,000 cor­po­rate ex­trav­a­ganza that she had helped to or­gan­ise.

Scan­dalised by the waste, she rein­vented her life — trad­ing cap­i­tal­ism for so­cial ac­tivism.

Her idea was rel­a­tively sim­ple: to col­lect some of the $20 bil­lion of good food that is dumped in Aus­tralia each year from restau­rants, su­per­mar­kets, and other sup­pli­ers, to re­dis­tribute it to those who were strug­gling.

Its ex­e­cu­tion was rather more com­plex.

Food Fighter captures Kahn’s vul­ner­a­bil­ity as well as her chutz­pah, the soft heart un­der­neath that forth­right front. Its sub­ject is a nat­u­rally charis­matic screen pres­ence.

Kahn is at her most re­laxed col­lect­ing the sur­plus food and hand­ing it out to her vul­ner­a­ble clients. But she’s most in­spir­ing when she’s fronting up to the big end of town. At one point the waste war­rior quotes a for­mer col­league who de­scribes her as like a “jet ski try­ing to pull an ocean liner”. The metaphor sticks. RONNI KAHN AND DI­REC­TOR DAN GOLD­BERG WILL AT­TEND Q& A SCREEN­ING AT THE STATE THE­ATRE TONIGHT, 6.30PM, AHEAD OF A SHORT THE­ATRI­CAL SEA­SON AT EVENT CINE­MAS JUNE 16- 20

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