OZHARVEST'S newest branch, operating out of Brisbane, has had an inspiring first six months.
The food rescue program picks up unwanted excess food from supermarkets, restaurants and other food outlets and delivers them the same day to charities feeding people in need.<
OzHarvest Brisbane is currently averaging 1800 kilograms of food per week – feeding around 200 people per day at a number of charitable agencies around Brisbane.
OzHarvest Brisbane Coordinator Cameron Hickey recently travelled out west to the flood-ravaged town of Dunkeld, near Mitchell in south-west Queensland.
"We packed in about 1770 kilograms of food into the truck.
The journey took us a bit longer than we anticipated, as one of the main roads into the town was flooded.
In the end it was about a 10 hour drive, 600 kilometres," said Mr Hickey.
The locals were appreciative of the delivery, having not had access to fresh bread for up to three weeks.
Food prices in the Queensland town have skyrocketed, potatoes rising to around four dollars per kilo.
"One man I spoke to said he hadn't been back to his house for three weeks, having been busy fixing roads.
He knew there was about four feet of water in his home and expected to just pull it down and start over," he said.
"What's inspiring is that these people are facing the fallout from the worst flood in their town's record, but they just keep persevering.
The attitude is positive and though there is so much work to be done, they just keep getting up every morning and getting into it."
OzHarvest worked alongside a number of organisations prior to arriving to better understand the situation on the ground.
"It's important to communicate about things; it's no good to distribute a lot of fresh food to an area which has no refrigeration or electricity, for example.
We also talked to BlazeAid to find out what was already happening on the ground, where it would be safe for us to distribute food and the best ways to go about it."
Mr Hickey pointed out the vast difference between Brisbane's own flood clean-up compared to somewhere as isolated as Mitchell.
It can be a tricky logistical task managing donations with needs, the realities of time, distance and resources.
Mr Hickey said that while OzHarvest works alongside many organisations, it is in a position where it has to triage the donations of food and the needs of recipient organisations.
"It can be a juggling act because we have to prioritise the distribution of food donations to the organisations that need it most.
"We have to categorise our agencies really well.
Some organisations only have the capacity to handle certain amounts of food donations.
We also need to take into account perishable and non-perishable food items.
"There are so many moving parts.
"We'll get a phone call saying someone has 60 cooked meals that need to be picked up immediately and we'll have to balance that with existing pickups and deliveries, quantities, locations, timing and whether the refrigerated truck is needed."
OzHarvest Brisbane is looking at getting a second truck to pick up food that would otherwise go to landfill.
They will soon be looking for volunteer drivers and other volunteer positions are available.
For more information visit http://brisbane.ozharvest.org