Eat for Free, Reduce Waste, Change the World

Hi! Those of you who follow me on Facebook would have seen that I rescue excess/seconds fresh fruit and veg, that would otherwise be sent to landfill, and that I then donate and trade what I don’t eat in order to reduce waste and change the world by supporting two charities (and this website to a small extent). This process is incredibly easy and I’d like to share it with you in a step by step ‘How To’ so that you can do it yourself too. Can you imagine how much waste we can save, and how much we can change the world if people everywhere start eating more fresh produce, giving it to people who are struggling financially and using the rest to support charities? It would be wild!!!

So here goes…

STEP 1: Choose Your Charity

Select a charity that provides for funds transfer into their account on an ad hoc basis so you aren’t tied into having to raise a set value every month.

STEP 2: Find the Food

Approach the owner of your local greengrocer store and ask them if they ever throw out any bananas just because they are single pieces of fruit or have gone a little spotty? If they say yes then ask whether they would be willing to hold these for you to pick up twice a week for free, since they were just going to toss them anyway, so you can then give these bananas to the poor or pass them on in return for donations to raise money for ________ (insert name of charity).

If they refuse; don’t argue, just leave and try another grocer, market, grower or supermarket.

If they agree then ask them if they have already contacted any food relief charities. If they haven’t you could coordinate setting up a relationship, in return for some fresh excess produce for yourself. If they’ve tried but had no luck getting a charity to pick up from them then ask what days and times would be most convenient to them for YOU to pick up the excess. Sometimes the amount they have is too little and too variable for the food relief charities to be bothered with pick up. Agree pick up days/times between you and the grocer. Send them a text message a couple of hours before each pickup to check if they have anything for you to take and to confirm that you are coming. Then make sure you turn up when you say you will.

Start with bananas only for the first couple of weeks as these are the most likely fruit they will give you. If all is then going well ask them if there is also other produce they toss out such as bruised avocados and wilted greens etc and whether they would hold these for you as well. If you pick up from their loading dock you are likely to see what they are discarding anyway but do not take from their waste/bins and make sure you only take what is offered to you.

Do not take anything that looks rotten or improperly stored/handled. Do not take green potatoes. Do not take anything past its ‘use by’ or ‘best before’ date or any perishable items such as bread, eggs or animal proteins as these could poison someone if they haven’t been kept in cold storage or are on the turn.

Before long you will likely find that you are receiving a variety of produce.

STEP 3: Sort the Produce and Put Aside Your Food

Transport the produce according to your local Food Safety/Food Standards guidelines. Ensure the produce is all in good edible condition, compost anything that isn’t. Bag and refrigerate the produce and put aside what you will need for your own personal use. Ensure that the excess produce that you will give or trade is properly stored according to the Food Standards and Food Donation codes for your state (these are not generally onerous for fruit and veg).

STEP 4: Give

Give what you can to anyone you know is doing is tough such as those who are sick, new mums, those who are struggling financially etc. There may be a local soup kitchen or food relief organisation that will accept produce from you.

STEP 5: Trade for Optional Donation

Whatever you can’t give away to good causes can now go to trade by optional donation. Photograph the produce and post a list of what you have onto social media. Explain that you are helping ___________ (insert name) grocer to save waste by trading their excess/seconds and raising money for ___________ (insert charity) in doing so. Invite people to just donate what they feel the produce is worth, if anything. Invite them to pick up from you at your home, or office, and to donate cash if they feel appropriate (they will). Try to avoid electronic transfer of funds as this is a headache to track and account for. Do not offer to deliver to people unless you are able to keep produce properly cold in your car (read the Food Standards and Food Donation codes for your state) and you have a lot of time on your hands.

STEP 6: Reconcile and Transfer Funds

Count the donations every month and announce how much you have raised onto social media (also announce how many people have been helped by what you are doing). Notify the grocer of how much they have helped you raise for your good cause and how many struggling people they have helped by supporting you. Thank the grocer and those who have donated. Write and tell me about what you’re up to and how it’s going for you!

Bank the money directly into your charity’s account. Don’t feel bad if it isn’t much. Every little bit counts! Request a receipt for each deposit and speak to your accountant as to what to do with these.

Then give yourself a pat on the back for reducing waste, promoting health and actively supporting a charitable cause!



What if my grocer gives me way too much produce?

  • Clean the produce, bag it up into portions and freeze it for your own later use
  • Invite others to volunteer to help you distribute it
  • Try again to find a food relief organisation that will pick up from your grocer (yes you may lose your own personal free supply). and are just two such organisations in Australia but there are many more
  • Start a juice or soup supply initiative with your family and friends
  • Donate the produce to an animal sanctuary, or local farm, as feed and compost
  • Compost it yourself and then trade the compost for donations to your charity

What if I raise large amounts of money?

  • Speak to an accountant as you may have an issue if you bank this money into your own account first before transferring it to the charity. It is better to bank direct to the charity to avoid the money being regarded as part of your taxable income
  • You may have just inadvertently created your own viable social enterprise! Congratulations! Now send me an email to tell me all about it! You’re also going to need advice from a solicitor and accountant to take this forward and set up a more professional structure

Will I get sued if someone says they got sick from eating the produce they received from me?

  • This is unlikely to occur if you only take and pass on produce that is fresh, produce that is customarily washed/peeled/cooked, and has been stored and handled properly according to good common sense and the Food Codes. If you are concerned or unsure please consult your local Council Health Inspector or a solicitor
  • In NSW, ‘…the protection of food donors is covered under the Civil Liability Amendment (Food Donations) Act 2002. The act limits the liability of individuals and businesses that donate food, providing certain food safety conditions have been met.As the NSW Food Authorityexternal link advises, food donors must ensure that:
    • the food is donated in good faith for a charitable or benevolent purpose
    • the food is donated with the intention that the receiver of food does not have to pay for the food
    • the food is safe to eat when it leaves the possession or control of the donor
    • the donor gives the charity any information it needs to ensure the ongoing safety of the food’

  • Ensure that it is clear to those receiving food that they aren’t expected to pay for the food and that donation of what they feel it is worth, to your selected charity, is optional
  • Please check your own local legislation regarding this matter prior to undertaking this initiative


© | 2016


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