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Meet the woman who's delivered over 20 million meals to those in need.

Since it’s inception, OzHarvest has delivered more than 20,000,000 meals to those in need – that’s 6,000 tonnes of food, diverted from landfill.

And that is simply staggering.

For anyone who isn’t familiar with OzHarvest, they’re an amazing charity that rescues surplus food, educates vulnerable people on how to live a more nurtured and nourishing life, and raises awareness about the true value of food and local farming.

We sat down with OzHarvest CEO, Ronni Khan to ask her what inspired her to start OzHarvest, her new partnership with Woolworths and what Christmas looks like for people in need.

Ronni Khan (middle) with Guillaume Brahimi (left) and George Calombaris (right).

Q: What inspired you to start OzHarvest?

A: Well in my business life, as an event producer, I kept seeing surplus food. I was creating it, in fact, because I wanted to make sure no one went hungry at any of my events.

You’ve probably been to an event where there wasn’t enough food and you probably didn’t feel good about that event, you didn’t think that host was generous and kind of left bad feeling. No one ever left my events thinking my host or the client I was working with wasn’t abundantly generous, so I was producing masses of surplus food. If I were producing it, so were others. I knew there were people in need because I’d seen them. I figured if I could connect those two it would be a good thing, and it seems like it has been, so much so that we just delivered our 42nd millionth meal from good food that would have otherwise gone to waste.

Q: What does the OzHarvest community look like?

A: Our staff and our funders, all describe it as a family. So I think that word, ‘family’, encompasses exactly how OzHarvest lives and breathes. We’re an extraordinary community who are completely committed to having as big an impact as possible within the space.

"We’re an extraordinary community who are completely committed to having as big an impact as possible within the space." Image via @OzHarvest Instagram.

Q: You’ve recently gone into partnership with Woolworths. Can you explain to me what that means to you?

A: We have a very exciting new partnership with Australia’s biggest food retailer. It highlights first of all, the value that we bring together, to the community. Woolworths is completely committed and hopes to have a zero waste policy by 2020. OzHarvest is about rescuing food and making sure that good food does not go to waste - so, it’s a perfect partnership, because together we can achieve that goal.

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Q: So once you’ve collected the food from restaurants, boardrooms and now Woolworths supermarkets, what’s the process? What happens from there?

A: Every day, OzHarvest collects food from restaurants and boardrooms and of course Woolworths supermarkets, and we take that food, and we deliver it directly to 800 charity organisations around Australia. We do that in real time, meaning that the food gets collected, and within an hour or two, it’s on the table of someone in need.

"Every day, OzHarvest collects food from restaurants and boardrooms and of course Woolworths supermarkets, and we take that food, and we deliver it directly to 800 charity organisations around Australia." Image via @OzHarvest Instagram.

Q: Christmas is often a really difficult time for families, and an expensive time for everyone. How important is OzHarvest at Christmas?

A: It’s a hugely important and difficult time of the year, especially when advertising and retailers and consumption is at its greatest, those in need feel the scarcity the most. For disadvantaged Australians, it is a time when they really feel disadvantaged. So when OzHarvest can provide beautiful quality food, and make sure there is a better Christmas, it is a very, very important and magnificent thing. This year we will be able to do that so much better because of this partnership with Woolworths.

Q: What do you think the future of OzHarvest is, or is that too hard to predict?

A:. My role, I believe, is to make sure we’re always as impactful as we can be. For me, there’s absolutely no doubt that I would like to end food waste and minimise poverty and hunger. I don’t want to be the biggest organisation in the world; I actually want to do us out of business.
To that end, we have a program that teaches vulnerable people how to cook, how to eat, how to purchase, how to sustain their own lives. That way we are giving people the skills and the tools they need to look after themselves, and become functioning members of our society.

Q: For anyone who wants to get involved with OzHarvest, are you actively looking for volunteers?

A: We certainly are. There are three ways for people to get involved; give us your time, give us your money, and/or connect us with people who might have food, time and/or money. Volunteering is easy, just write us a note at [email protected]

And just remember, every dollar invested in allows us to deliver at least two meals.

Q: That’s very powerful. Just so you know, here at Mamamia HQ we have a wall of inspirational women, and you’re very much on it.

A: Wow. I’m incredibly humbled. Thank you, that’s very beautiful.

Checkout OzHarvest's volunteers in action:

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So just by spending time with Mamamia, you’re helping educate girls, which is the best tool to lift them out of poverty.

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