Contributed from Victoria
Melbourne’s popular not for profit restaurant Lentil As Anything has operated for years, based on using excess food that would otherwise be wasted, and charging customers only a voluntary donation, based on what they think the meal they have eaten is worth.
Lentil As Anything has now come up with another initiative, and that is, the opening last Sunday of a not for profit supermarket in Thornbury, an inner Melbourne suburb. It goes by the name of the Inconvenience Store.
Like the restaurant, it bases itself on the recycling of excess produce that would otherwise have gone to the tip as landfill. The stock is donated. Here too, customers only pay a donation, based on what they think the produce is worth.
This might be a small initiative, in the face of the 20 billion dollar problem in Australia, according to waste expert Karli Verghese, from RMIT University.
Its importance lies in that it is setting an example, to show that by people getting together and taking action, they can contribute to solving the problem. If they can do it, so can others.
This is especially important at a time when food security is a growing problem for many Australians. Food insecurity is when one is in a position where three meals a day can no longer be guaranteed.
“The idea was to make a difference in the food waste crisis,” project coordinator Astrid Ryan said.
“We wanted to provide people access to nutritious fruit and vegetables.
“When people are in financial crisis or difficult situations, it’s probably the thing they have least access to.”
“The food is free,” at the Inconvenience Store.
Customers can stock their bags with food, ranging from fruit and vegetables to bread and some packaged items. People are just asked to make a donation to keep the store going and to consider volunteering some of their time to help.
The bread is donated by nearby bakeries, while other produce comes from places such as the Preston Market or even Aldi.
The food may be a tad old or have an unusual appearance, but it is fine to eat.
Lentil As anything’s initiative is also about more than cutting back on waste. It contributes towards discovering a new economy. One of cooperatively working together for mutual needs, rather than the exploitation of the market for individual profit.