#1 Tackling Food Waste

Thursday 7 August 2014
6.00 - 7.30PM

This event has passed


Charles Perkins Centre Lecture Theatre


How do we address the fact that too much of the world’s food goes to waste while we have so many people needing food?

In association with Sydney Ideas

This event has now passed but you can listen to the podcast below. 

Too much of the world’s food goes to waste. This is a problem both for the planet, and for the task of feeding the world’s people. Wasted food represents a burden on our scarce environmental resources that we can scarcely afford, and loss of product that could (indeed, should) be made available for those in need.

In this Sydney Ideas seminar, we investigate this problem, and ask what can be done. The three panellists have different and distinctive perspectives on why we should treat this issue with the seriousness it deserves. Ronni Kahn is the CEO and founder of OzHarvest, a non-profit organisation which in the year to June 2013, rescued 1,691 tonnes of food, redistributing this to 5.07 million meals to people in need across Australia. Dr Brian Jones is a Senior Lecturer in horticulture and plant science in the University’s Faculty of Agriculture and Environment. Alexandra Iljadica is Founding director of Youth Food Movement, an organisation with the goal of bringing together young people around food, and thereby building understanding about the values of the foods we eat.

Chair:  Associate Professor Bill Pritchard
Ronni Kahn, OzHarvest
Dr. Brian Jones, The University of Sydney
Alexandra Iljadica , Youth Food Movement Australia

Alexandra Iljadica is the founder of the Youth Food Movement Australia, a formidable part of the food movement spreading across the country. The Youth Food Movement is growing a generation of young Australians empowered with the ability to make healthy and sustainable food choices. Alexandra splits her career between research – a skill and sector she gets much personal and professional fulfilment from – and entrepreneurship – a world that allows her to act on what it is that innately drives her to get out of bed every day. Over the last 3 years she has grown the Youth Food Movement into a national organisation with a community of over 7500 young people in chapters across Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. Most recently, she lead a volunteer team in creating CropFest, a campaign and event tackling the impact that appearance standards have on generating food waste. Other projects include the Reel Food Night – a night of film and conversation about the most pressing issues facing our food system; the Ride On Lunch – connecting everyday people with local food champions; and their annual Passata Day – preserving hundreds of kilos of tomatoes and food skills to be enjoyed throughout the year. Through these projects she is providing young people with a place to come together to find solutions and opportunities to the issues we face in the Australian food an agriculture sectors.

Brian Jones After completing a degree in horticulture, Brian moved to France with his wife and four kids to do a PhD in plant molecular genetics. Combining his interests in basic science and horticulture, Brian has spent much of his career in Europe, working in fundamental biology and molecular breeding. Now back in Australia at the University of Sydney, Brian continues to work on improving yield capacity in crop species through the application of molecular genetics, but, having recognized that it makes little sense to incrementally improve yield capacity whilst wasting up to 40% of the food that we currently produce, Brian is now also investigating the contribution that urban food production and food waste minimization can have on the sustainability of the food system.

Ronni Kahn is Founder and CEO of OzHarvest, a charity established in November 2004 for the purpose of making a significant contribution to society. Stunned by the amount of food wasted by the hospitality industry, Ronni decided to do something about it. Inspired by CityHarvest, a charity that had been operating successfully for over 20 years in New York, Ronni brought the food-rescue model back to Sydney. Backed by the Macquarie Foundation which provided initial funds and Goodman, which provided the first OzHarvest van and office space, OzHarvest was finally up and running. Ronni was instrumental in changing the existing legislation across four states that had prevented food donors from supplying excess food. Now companies and registered businesses around Australia are protected from liability when donating quality excess food to OzHarvest under the Civil Liabilities Amendment Act and Health Acts. OzHarvest collected and delivered its first meal on 3 November 2004 and in its first month delivered 4,000 meals to 14 shelters using one van. OzHarvest now delivers over 480,000 meals each month with a fleet of 21 vans to more than 500 charities across Sydney, Wollongong, Newcastle, Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and more recently in the Gold Coast. Since its inception, over 20 million meals have been delivered to women, children and men in need while also having rescued over 6,000 tonnes of food from ending up as landfill and waste.

Listen to a podcast from this event here: