Kindred Spirits - Ozharvest - Sunshine Coast
I met Michele Lipner the incredible force behind Ozharvest Sunshine Coast, one sunny morning for coffee. This is a woman with drive and passion, who is on a mission to help as many people as she can. The story of Ozharvest and in particular this program on the coast, is one of facing the facts head on and finding a solution to two problems in one fell swoop - food waste and hunger. Please read and be inspired...
OzHarvest Sunshine Coast was launched in August 2014. From a modest base of three volunteers, four food donors and three local charities, there was been significant growth. OzHarvest Sunshine Coast currently partners with recipients and food suppliers from Gympie, Cooroy, Tewantin, Noosa, Peregian Beach, Peregian Springs, Coolum, Maroochydore, Mooloolaba, Cotton Tree, Kawana and Nambour. Food suppliers include local farmers markets, major supermarkets, independent fruit and vegetable markets, local bakeries and butchers. In addition, we are increasingly reaching out directly to local farmers to access their excess crops/produce. We currently partner with 28 recipient organisations including local schools (e.g. Tewantin, Noosa, Gympie, Peregian Springs, Coolum), charities (i.e. Salvation Army in Gympie, Noosa, Coolum, Maroochydore, Nambour; St. Vincent de Paul in Gympie, Noosa and Maroochydore, etc), community organisations (United Synergies, Coolum Community Centre, Maroochy Neighbourhood Centre, Integrated Family and Youth Services in Maroochydore), programs (e.g., Fusion Sunshine Coast, Youth Justice Program) and churches. Additionally, OzHarvest Sunshine Coast has invited local schools to initiate can/pantry drives, as nonperishable pantry items are particularly important to charities and a major source of food to families and individuals in need. We are also very proud of our partnership with Noosa Civic Shopping Centre and its Little Community Pantry—a partnership that invites Centre patrons to donate unopened non-perishable food and toiletries.
Through this partnership, we have also begun reaching out to local hotels and resorts, asking them to encourage guests before checkout to donate unopened pantry items back to OzHarvest. This not only helps feed those in need, but it also contributes to the reduction of food finding its way into landfill.
Since commencing operations, OzHarvest Sunshine Coast has collected and redistributed over 120,000 kg of food in the Sunshine Coast. This is equivalent to about 360,000 meals. In addition to food rescue activities, the program is also involved in community education, information and advocacy, promoting local food security, food sustainability and elimination of food waste. Our program is always expanding its operations and will in time incorporate all of the Sunshine Coast. Currently, OzHarvest Sunshine Coast has more than 55 volunteers who support our operations.