Mornington Youth Call for Social Change Through Food Redistribution Bill

Lauren Colosimo
Social Justice & Environment Reporter
YMCA Youth Press Gallery

Claudia Jambor
Education Reporter
YMCA Youth Press Gallery

Supermarket

Young people from Mornington Rotary Club have proposed a bill to the YMCA Youth Parliament that aims to reduce food wastage and provide it to those who need it most.

Food insecurity is on the rise in Victoria yet Australians are throwing away an estimated 4 million tonnes of edible food each year.

The bill aims to prevent unnecessary food wastage by making it compulsory for Victorian supermarkets to donate any edible food that would otherwise have been thrown away.

Member of the Rotary team, Jessy Hall, says he observed a sustainable food policy while living in England and that inspired the bill topic.

“I came across a pay-as-you-feel cafe that only served recycled food and then the French legislation was passed and we really wanted to start a global trend.”

Earlier this year, France legislated all unsold food in supermarkets must be donated to charities or for animal feed. The legislation garnered significant global support.

Food Alliance Co-ordinator, Kathy McConnell says while the bill is a great idea, the policy shouldn’t be a “knee jerk reaction” to France’s new legislation.

“Okay France did it therefore it must be a good thing, are there any evaluation results? How long has France been doing this? What are the outcomes? What are the costs? I mean it sounds great but is that the best option for us here?”

Food distribution charities, FareShare and Foodbank have expressed differing views on the bill proposal.

FoodBank Communications Coordinator, Mikaela Figgis welcomes the proposed implementation of a compulsory food redistribution system.

“The bill will increase awareness and understanding of hunger and food wastage in Victoria. And it would mean we could rescue more food.”

Under the bill, the Victorian Government would also subsidise refrigerated trucks to charities for transportation but fuel would not be covered.

Figgis said the provision of trucks would allow for greater accessibility for regional and rural Victorian charities to access food in their local area.

“Giving charities in rural and regional victoria the means to collect from their local grocer would allow food to be transported directly without being routed through Melbourne.”

Food donation charities are currently protected by the Wrongs & Other Acts (Public Liability Insurance Reform) Act 2002, known as the Good Samaritan law. The amendment financially protects charities that donate safe food throughout Victoria; a law which France did not have in place.

CEO of FareShare, Marcus Godinho said his charity collects perishables from over 85 food suppliers and said it would be unnecessary to have government resources tied up in the administration and management of a compulsory system.

“If the government came in now and said you have to do what you are already doing it would be a bit silly.

“Better use of government resources would be to assist charities in a greater capacity to collect food, possibly with funding.