Leading food rescue charity FareShare is urging Victorians to ditch the habits of the past in order to reduce the mountains of food that will be wasted over the Christmas break.
It is estimated that Australian households will spend $10 billion on food this Christmas, with around 35 per cent going to waste because of over-purchasing and lack of awareness about how easy it is to save uneaten food for another time.
FareShare CEO Marcus Godinho said that many people still cooked Christmas dinner like their parents did, buying huge amounts of food before December 25 out of habit, forgetting that families are smaller and many shops are now open on the day.
“There is likely to be fewer people at your family Christmas lunch and there is no longer the need to squirrel away heaps of food just in case Uncle Ron turns up unannounced, because you can almost certainly go out and buy more,” said Godinho.
“Yet many of us are locked into doing it the way we watched our parents do it when we were growing up.”
Godinho said the result was often a dining room table that was still full of food at the end of Christmas lunch or dinner, leading to massive food waste across the country every year. He said other tips to reduce waste include:
- Serve half-portions. Not putting your food out all at once means people don’t feel compelled to eat too much, and it stops lots of food being left over on the table to spoil.
- Only buy one kind of meat. A turkey and a ham? Maybe if you’re feeding 18 people but if not it’s probably over the top.
- Instead of a whole turkey, buy a smaller rolled turkey breast.
- Learn the difference between ‘use by’ and ‘best before’. The first is a definite recommendation that the food may be unsafe after that date, the second one is just a guide, meaning the food may change texture or lose colour but may still be edible beyond that date. Knowing this could mean you can keep that unused cranberry sauce for a little longer.
- Take unused food over to the neighbours. Spread Christmas cheer in your street, and ensure your leftovers are going to a good home.
Godinho said that, because of food safety regulations, FareShare is unfortunately not able to accept small amounts of food from individuals or families over the Christmas period.
“If you want to donate food at Christmas time, one option is to think of what you were going to spend on food, spend a little less on yourself and with the difference buy some non-perishable food to donate to a charity like the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre,” he said.
Godinho said it was a sad irony that Christmas was simultaneously a time of widespread food waste but also one of FareShare’s busiest periods of making food for Victorian charities, as many families struggled to get enough to eat.
“By cooking a million meals a year in Australia’s biggest charity kitchen, FareShare helps bridge the gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’, ensuring that thousands of Victorians get enough food to eat over this holiday season,” he said.
Ben Hart, Director – Communications
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