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Australia's first 'rescued food' supermarket opened in Sydney yesterday

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Written by
Alyx Gorman
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There’s no worse feeling. Your groceries have been beeped through the till, the total is up on the screen and it’s time to pay. You tap your card, hold your breath and hope it goes through. It doesn’t. Your card has been declined, and now you’ll have to take items out of the bag, bit by bit, to bring the bill down to something you can afford.

No one will suffer through that indignity at Oz Harvest Market – Australia’s first ‘rescued food supermarket’. The market opened its doors in Kensington yesterday and has already served 135 customers. You’ve probably seen Oz Harvest’s sunshine yellow vans scooting around the city – they’re picking up rescued food from over 2000 grocery stores, restaurants, and other suppliers nationally. Oz Harvest rescues 87 tonnes of perfectly edible food every week, which it distributes to over 900 charities around Australia.

Fresh fruit and vegetables at Oz Harvest Market under a sign that says 'Take what you need, give if you can'

Photograph: Supplied

The Oz Harvest Market is manned entirely by volunteers and stocked with food rescued from suppliers local to the area. Customers are served on a “take what you need, donate if you can” basis. Fiona Nearn, who works in communications for Oz Harvest tells us: “We keep getting asked if we’re worried people will come in and clear the shelves, but it’s such a new concept, we’re not worried about that… Everyone has been very authentic with it.”

Customers can pick up everything from fresh fruit to dry goods to frozen meals. “It’s just like a normal supermarket, except smaller.”

One customer yesterday, an older man with a penchant for bread dipped in olive oil, was particularly thrilled with the concept. Picking up a bottle of olive oil “[he] said ‘this costs $12 in the supermarket, are you sure I can have it?’” Another customer told the volunteers “It’s like Christmas every day.”

The site, at 147 Anzac Parade, Kensington, has been given to Oz Harvest rent free by property developers Toga, while they wait for the building to go through a planning approval process.

The supermarket used to be a Chinese restaurant, and it sits below the Addison Project, a pop-up youth shelter, that makes use of the former-hotel’s 42 fully-furnished rooms. Orange Sky Laundry make twice-weekly visits to the shelter and Thread Together, who do for clothes what Oz Harvest do for food, has a shop next door.

Oz Harvest founder Ronnie Kahn poses beside bananas wearing a yellow sweater in the Oz Harvest Market
Oz Harvest founder Ronnie Kahn

At this stage, the site is likely to remain available to Oz Harvest and the Addison Project for 12 months. Oz Harvest are still on the look out for more donated space. “I hope other people in the property industry will be inspired by Toga”.

If you’d like to volunteer at the Oz Harvest Market, the best place to sign up is the Oz Harvest website.
 
The Oz Harvest Market is open weekdays from 10am to 2pm, at 147 Anzac Parade, Kensington 2033.

Feeling inspired? Here are more places to volunteer in Sydney.

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