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Editions

That’s a hell of a lot of food!

02 Aug 2018

That’s a hell of a lot of food! Image

Local charity The Big Umbrella has rescued and reissued 218 tonnes of discarded food over the past seven years.

Based at the old community “Hub” in Harbour Esplanade, the charity accepts, prepares, transports and feeds about 200 people at Federation Square on Wednesday and Thursday nights.

Founder Justin Dickinson said his organisation had not missed a single week since the operation started in 2011. So far, more than 100,000 people have been fed.

“We even operate on Christmas Day,” he said. “Why do we do it? Because we all have enough in our lives and you have to give back.”

The group has a core of dedicated volunteers who perform “team leader” functions during the actual food distribution between 7.30pm and 9.30pm supervising teams of up to 25 helpers.

But the effort starts earlier in Docklands around 3pm when food is delivered by Oz Harvest, an organisation which collects “left overs” from supermarkets, cafes and restaurants.

Fresh food is then reconstituted into salads and other forms before being packed for transportation to the CBD and, ultimately, distributed. But it doesn’t end there either.

Afterwards, back at Docklands, there is washing-up to the done, and then everything is packed away for next time.

Volunteer Soraya Knapp said she often would not get home to suburban Heathmont until midnight – depending on the train service. She said the reward of helping people in need with food that would otherwise have gone to landfill far outweighed any inconvenience.

Both Soraya and colleague Susan Curro have day jobs. Their years of volunteering have come at the expense of sleeping in a cosy bed at home.

Volunteer Hannah Linn also performs “corporate” functions for The Big Umbrella – taking charge of promotion and social media engagement.

The charity supports itself through offering team-building experiences for corporations that offer corporate social responsibility programs. Schools also regularly participate in the program.

See thebigumbrella.org for further information about volunteering opportunities.

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