Ronni Kahn is a woman with a lot on her plate. In fact, she’s trying desperately to make sure other people have a lot on their plate too, particularly those whose plates are regularly empty.
Founding non-denominational charity OZ Harvest in 2004, which helps minimise food waste by feeding it to Australia’s needy, Ronni had decided she was sick of seeing copious amounts of food end up in the bin.
The penny dropped for Ronni after working in the hospitality industry for over 20 years. It was here she decided that since no one appeared to be doing anything about large scale food waste, she would.
Inspiration came after visiting her sister in Los Angeles, where she discovered a group called Angel Harvest, which rescued left over food and delivered it to people in need. After meeting the founder Helen, Ronni decided to get home and put her thoughts into action.
Soon she managed to get financial support from the Macquarie Group Foundation and Goodman International. OZ Harvest then had one van and an office space, and in its first month, it managed to deliver over 4,000 meals in the greater Sydney area.
It wasn’t long after that Ronni Kahn managed to persuade a group of socially minded business people to get on board, leading to the company’s continued growth and success. Presently, OZ Harvest delivers around 330,000 meals per month with its fleet of 12 vans. The company now has nearly 700 organisations regularly donating food.
Ronni says “in setting up Oz Harvest, one of the biggest challenges was food donors felt that they could not give away their food for fear of liability”. She adds “we managed to push to get the law amended to allow food donors to give food away for free without fear of liability”.
Describing Ronni Kahn as a passionate and tenacious person, her peers say “she can’t seem to understand the word no”. In Ronnie’s words, “every major city in Australian needs a food rescue program.. because we are completely committed to food not going to waste when there are people in need”.
When asked about the success of Oz Harvest, Ronni says “it feels amazing”.
For more info on Oz Harvest checkout their website.
Ronni Kahn went on to win the Australian of the Year’s Local Hero award in 2010.