Thursday, 3 June 2010

FEEDING THE HUNGRY


“The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other. It is not, as poverty was before, the result of natural scarcity, but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich. Consequently, the modern poor are not pitied but written off as trash. The twentieth-century consumer economy has produced the first culture for which a beggar is a reminder of nothing.” - John Berger

We are lucky in Australia compared to many places around the world. I am grateful for having a job, a house to live in, food on the table every day, being able to lead an existence that has dignity, comfort and safety. I realise that many people have nothing of these and their very existence is threatened daily. It is an indisputable fact that millions around the world starve, have no clean fresh water to use, the lives of many are threatened, or indeed taken, by warfare or terrorist action. Thinking of this every day can chasten one somewhat and when confronting those few have-nots that we come into contact with in our everyday life, our help becomes spontaneous and genuine. There are several beggars on the streets of the city that I see daily, some professional (you can tell by the designer sneakers and the mobile phones they use), some genuine down-and-outers.

Organisations such as the Salvation Army, the Smith Family, Anglicare and St Vincent De Paul Society are active in Australia and there is never a shortage of people that need help and rely on the resources of these charities in order to survive. It is a given that our problem here in Australia is minimal compared to other parts of the world, but I was shocked to learn that in Melbourne, there are about 400,000 people who do not have food on their table every day and rely on the kindness of charities to provide them with their daily bread…

This is quite a frightening statistic, especially considering that three million tonnes of food are thrown out each year in Australia! That’s 136 kg of food wasted per year, for every person living in Australia! Research by The Australia Institute shows that Australians throw away about $5.2 billion worth of food every year. This includes $1.1 billion of fruit and vegetables. The Institute estimates that the average Australian household throws away $616 worth of food per annum. This is frightening, considering so many people around the world starve to death every year and so many in Australia go hungry every day.

I have become aware of a campaign in Melbourne that attempts to right some of these wrongs and feed the hungry in our city. The Feed Melbourne Campaign is a means of raising funds and receiving food donations. Donations can be received online, but also at any Woolworths supermarket or by phone at (03) 9008 0685. It is a fantastic way of helping those people who are genuinely in need of help and whose tables are bare every day.

Another great initiative for feeding the hungry in Melbourne is Fare Share. This group attempts to limit the wastage of food and reclaim some of the good food that would normally be thrown out. The services that Fare Share provides, is the supply of free, tasty, nutritious meals to the hungry and the homeless using donated food not needed by markets, caterers, and retailers around Melbourne. This charity group does a great deal in order to reduce food wastage and feed the hungry, frequently organising special campaigns, functions and fund-raising drives.

One of the fund-raising events to be held this month is being organised by the m.a.d.woman group, which specialises in campaigns to improve our world. These include corporate social responsibility, public relations, communication, cause-related marketing, events and strategic philanthropic advice. It involves a special dinner where single men donate money in order to attend a dinner on 24th June. m.a.d.woman and Fare Share are hosting the largest Single Volunteers event to date as part of the Feed Melbourne campaign - a campaign to raise $1 million to help charities collect, store and distribute food to Victorians who are doing it tough (see illustration above).

Food Friday today has been about feeding the hungry, which can be found right next to us, even if we live in a rich, industrialised, Western, first world country… We only need to open our eyes and hearts in order to become aware of this problem and help in its solution in every way we can.

3 comments:

  1. My father had a restaurant for a long time, so I was well aware of the large amount of perfectly good food thrown into the bin at the end of each working day. A heart breaker!

    Then I heard of Ronni Kahn's brilliant idea to set up OzHarvest a few years ago in Sydney. It was and is a huge success, limited only by the number of trucks they can get onto the road each day.

    I hope Fare Share does as well in Melbourne, and that businesses really get on board with the idea.

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  2. This is an excellent initiative and I wish that it would be taken up by many more "first world" countries around the world that waste so much food.

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  3. "If you haven't any charity in your heart you have the worst kind of heart trouble" to cure it help people, let's unite for one good cause, be a volunteer"save lives"!mawaddainternationalaid

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