how has covid-19 impacted and challenged the day-to-day business and operations of ozharvest? have there been any unforeseen positive moments?
COVID-19 has seen food relief reach an all-time high, so we’ve introduced a number of emergency food relief programs including pop-up hamper hubs, mobile markets delivering food to regional locations, cooked meals, food essentials boxes and opened a second OzHarvest Market in July. At the beginning of the pandemic, we lost our major fundraising event (CEO CookOff) and our Cooking for a Cause program, which brought in valuable revenue to the organisation. We were lucky to receive government funding, which has allowed us to provide new emergency food relief services.
During the first couple of months of COVID-19, food volumes fluctuated, initially with a decrease from panic buying in supermarkets to a surge from the closure of the hospitality sector. The large influx of food from the hospitality industry was bittersweet – it allowed us to collect and distribute a record amount of quality produce to people in need, but we were deeply saddened to see our friends in the hospitality industry hit so hard.
Now, food volumes have stabilised, but for the first time in our history we’ve had to purchase food to meet the new level of demand. Our amazing chefs and hospitality heroes have also picked up the task of producing thousands of portions a week of delicious, nourishing meals. These are delivered directly to charities who are helping support people in isolation or without access to a kitchen. Since starting the cooked meals program in March, we have created and distributed more than 500,000 meals. So many people have offered to help, from providing extra vehicles, helping with deliveries, providing equipment and services – the sense of community in this challenging time has been overwhelming.