OzHarvest began when founding director Ronni Kahn decided she was not prepared to be part of the waste cycle that is a natural outcome of the hospitality industry. Being a part of this industry for over 20 years she had seen a lot of food wasted. So she spent time researching options for dealing with the excess food. There was no organisation in Sydney that could collect the food on a regular and professional basis so Ronni decided to set up a food rescue charity herself.
Backed by The Macquarie Group Foundation which provided funds and Goodman International, which provided a van and office space, OzHarvest was established and collected its first meal in November 2004. Ronni was able to persuade a group of socially minded business people to sit on the board of OzHarvest. This voluntary board brings not only sound business disciplines to the management of OzHarvest but also compassion and generosity.
Today OzHarvest is overseen by a board of socially minded business people to support the organisation and ensure sound business discipline, but also to bring compassion and generosity to the culture and management. They have grown to run a fleet of 11 vehicles and provide food to over 260 charities across Sydney and Wollongong, 55 in Newcastle, 47 in Adelaide and 22 in Brisbane. A meal is delivered for less than $1, 13 300 meals delivered per day, they have more than 240 recipient agencies and over 900 food donors.
Caterers are sometimes nervous to donate food, however what has facilitated this programme working is that members of the community who donate food to charities are protected under Part 8A of the Civil Liability Act 2002 (NSW). In general, this Act protects food donors from civil liability where food is donated for a charitable purpose with the intention that the consumer will not have to pay for the food, and where the food was safe to consume at the time of donation.