Oz Harvest CEO Cook Off

(7pm, Carriageworks, Eveleigh)

Thank you and good evening, everyone. It's great to see you all here for the fourth annual OzHarvest CEO Cook-Off.

I'd also like to acknowledge all the CEOs here this evening, giving their time for the cause, and of course, our wonderful chefs who've earned Australia such a great reputation among food-lovers world wide, and who are lending their skills for the event.

Once again I'm pleased to have this opportunity to pay tribute to Ronnie Kahn - first for founding OzHarvest and now for this Cook-Off which raises awareness of food insecurity, homelessness and food wastage in this very privileged country of ours.

Every year, Australians throw out between $8 and $10 billion worth of food - something like four million tonnes of it which invariably ends up in landfill.

We produce enough food to feed about 60 million people, yet there are two million Australians who still rely on food relief each year. Agencies say they struggle to meet the demand, with almost 90 per cent saying they cannot feed as many as come to them.

Even so, for every five shopping bags of food taken into Australian homes, one will end up in the garbage.

We can't afford to go on doing this. We can't afford it in terms of the social injustice that it is, and we can't afford it in terms of the environmental vandalism that it is.

OzHarvest was founded to help remedy that situation, taking unwanted food, food that otherwise would go to landfill, and turning it into healthy and tasty meals to deliver to people in need.

It's an outstanding example of what the vision and determination of one person can achieve, and the support it receives - as we can see here this evening - suggests its principles resonate strongly in our communities.

Each week, OzHarvest collects more than 70 tonnes of quality food that would otherwise end up in landfill. In total over the years, it's stopped more than 19,000 tonnes of carbon emissions being released from landfill, and stopped the wastage of enough water to fill more than 600 Olympic-sized pools.

Each week, those savings are turned to nutritious and tasty meals that go to over 600 charities around Australia to feed people who would otherwise be hungry.

It's an outstanding effort, one that supports our fellow-Australians in one of the most fundamental needs that we all share.

So again, congratulations to everyone at OzHarvest, and a very big thank-you to all the chefs and CEOs giving their time this evening.