Katrina Humble’s involvement with Reap

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Katrina Humble has started to address some major issues that are common Australia wide, but are also very relevant in our local area. Committee Spokesperson for Reap Food Rescue, Katrina explains how good food goes to waste and can also be used to benefit the more needy members in our community …

What exactly is Reap Food Rescue?

Reap is the regional food rescue package of OzHarvest. OzHarvest is a charity that was created by a woman named Ronni Kahn – a chef who saw the amounts of food wasted daily and thought how easy it would be to rescue this food and donate it to charity.

So, the charity OzHarvest basically established Reap as a food rescue ‘toolkit’ for regional areas. How did the Port Macquarie-Hastings area become involved?

My husband and I moved here three years ago from Sydney. I saw OzHarvest’s work down there and thought what a great idea it was.

When we moved, I investigated the area and saw that there was a similar need here.But at that stage, OzHarvest hadn’t established Reap – and the city package wouldn’t have worked quite so well in regional areas.

About 9 months ago, OzHarvest rang me to ask if I was still interested in creating a service here, and they told me about their new regional package – Reap.

What exactly is your position with Reap locally then; is it a volunteer role?

I’m the committee spokesperson and co-ordinate the day to day running. We’ve been getting the program off the ground for the past 9 months, but it’s only very new in terms of delivering food – we’ve been doing that for the past few weeks. I am doing this voluntarily – we’re all volunteers.

It’s a big job. Why do you give up so much of your time to help with this program?

I’m a counsellor by profession, so I guess it’s in my nature to help people. When we moved from Sydney, we had three small children – and they’re all off to school next year. I have the time now … so I thought I’d look into it.

I saw Ronni Kahn’s story, she won Australian of the Year, and it really inspired me. I thought, “This would not be hard to do,” so it inspired me to get up and spend a day with the OzHarvest guys in Sydney.

It’s also inspired me to be more proactive in my own household and recognise the amount of food we use. I’m also buying fresh fruit and vege on a more daily basis now, so it’s not wasted.

What was involved with getting Reap ‘off the ground’ locally?

We formed a great committee – including sourcing the assistance of some accountants, who help us with working out budgets. We were very fortunate to receive a $10,000 grant from the Port Macquarie-Hastings Council, which was fantastic.

We had to source some local food outlets willing to donate food. On board now we have Aldis, Bakers Delight in Port Central and Fusion Food Services. We intend to expand as much as possible, of course. So, from this point of view, to get Reap off the ground we originally sourced the local charities, figured out what they needed, and then sourced the food.

We also have on board some volunteers with a van, who collect the food and drop it off for us.

What charities are Reap Food Rescue Service already helping locally?

We’re helping the Catholic soup kitchen, the Anglican soup kitchen, the Women’s Refuge, McCosker House, and in the New Year we’ll be helping out with the breakfast programs at the public primary schools.

The breakfast program ensures kids kick start their day with a healthy breakfast – and when I contacted a few of the schools, I was amazed that the program was in danger of being closed down due to lack of funding.

At one school in Port Macquarie alone, over 80 kids are using the program – which is 80 kids who would have gone hungry otherwise. The timing was great for us to step in and help.

What types of food can businesses donate to Reap?

The requirement is if you wouldn’t eat it, neither will we. For example, Aldis will store their fresh fruit and vege on the shelf for two days only, then they replace it. This fruit and vege is still perfectly fine to eat.

Items like fresh fruit and vege, breads, milk, Fusion Food Service donated hams for Christmas, bacon, cheese etc. Unfortunately, we can’t accept donations from households.

Where would you like to see the program heading into the future?

I’d like to expand the program to Kempsey, Taree and other areas and have the program running smoothly.

There is just so much food wasted, and it would be great to be able to help all the needy charities we can.

We are keeping a tally of how much food we rescue, and at the end of every month we send those figures to Sydney. In just two pickups recently, we rescued over 15 kg of food – you can just imagine these kinds of amounts going to landfill.

So not only is this program feeding people who need it, it is reducing the amount of rubbish going to landfill  and helping the environment. We just want to see this program develop as much as it possibly can …

We’ve started off small – taking baby steps. We’ve started off helping the soup kitchens, as I mentioned, and as we grow, we plan to take on bigger projects next year.

What can locals do to help Reap?

We’re looking for more food donors – and financial donors too. We’re actually planning to hold an official donor/sponsorship luncheon in February – details to be confirmed – in order to get some of the big businesses involved.

Where do people go for more information if they’re interested in helping out?

The website: www.reap.org.au has all the information people need to find out about the program. I can be contacted on 0413 309 385.

Thanks Katrina. 

Interview by Jo Atkins.

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