"Approximately 28,000 supermarkets worth of food goes to landfill every year in Victoria," suggests FareShare CEO Marcus Godinho. FareShare is a food rescue service in Melbourne, Australia, who were a joint winners of the 2010 Premier's Sustainability Awards. So far this year they've saved 468 tonnes of food that would've otherwise been sent to landfill. Then 3,000 volunteers have cooked 1,114,461 meals for the needy, and doing so FareShare has supported 130 charities.
As those impressive figures suggest, this is no ordinary do-gooder group, but a well-oiled, switched-on, dynamic organisation. Their recent adoption of Apple iPads to streamline operations further distances them from the quaint, fuddy duffy soup kitchens of old.Harnessing Technology
Using an iPad application developed by staff and volunteers, IT Wire reports that FareShare is now able to alert the kitchen's chefs of what food ingredients have been collected in real time, increasing their capacity to prepare free nutritious meals for charities. IT Wire notes the app also reduces the charity's paper trail, improves monitoring and reporting, and increases efficiency.
"This information is helping our kitchen plan what to cook, and is increasing the number and diversity of meals we can make. We can also re-distribute packaged food straight to charities' doors faster than ever before," said Chris Scott, FareShares's Food Donations and Logistics Manager. "Drivers no longer need to handwrite delivery documents and we don't need to re-enter the information back in the office. This technology has meant I have an extra 2.5 hours each day to focus on rescuing more food and helping more charities," he said.
FareShare are hoping kind souls will assist them with the donation of four more iPads to further speed up their processes. Click here for contacts.
Not only is FareShare at the leading edge of urban food rescue technology, but they know their good works extend well beyond social benefits into environmental advantages.
For instance, a recent study by the Hyder consulting group entitled "Sustainability Gains Through the Recovery of Unsold or Off-specification food" (PDF) found that:
The estimated benefits of FareShare's food recovery activities in 2008-09 (400 tonnes) is the avoided emissions of 620 tonnes of greenhouse gases (CO2eq) or the annual equivalent of switching off 953 refrigerators for a year, an energy saving equivalent to the annual energy consumption of 519 refrigerators. It also achieves a water saving equivalent to the annual water consumption of 96 households, and a saving in landfill disposal equivalent to the annual generation of 730 households.
On average, every kilogram of food that FareShare recovers results in a saving of 1.5 kg of greenhouse (CO2eq) emissions, and saves 56 litres of water.
Community Engagement & Match Making
Feeding the homeless and needy, rescuing food from landfill, saving water, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, providing community volunteer opportunities and working with the latest technological gizmos. Who could ask for more?
Well, there is more! FareShare also host an event, Feed Melbourne, where hundreds of singles can volunteer to cook food for the hungry. Meet new like-minded people in a non-threatening environment and even if you don't hook up with someone, you know you've helped prepare 7,000 meals for those in need. Although, apparently in 2009 over 100 couples were also brought together in this community cook fest.
FareShare, via, IT Wire and MacDailyNews
More on Food Waste
• Wasted Food: Trashing the Idea of Throwaway Food
• The Impact of Food Waste on Climate Change (And Just About Everything Else)
• America Wastes 40% of It's Food Supply Every Year
• The Weight of 74 Golden Gate Bridges Wasted in Food. Each Year. In USA Alone.
And Contacts for various Food Bank style organisations
• The UK