Avanade gives back across Australia

  • Posted on January 10, 2019
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes
OZHarvest volunteer opportunities

Far too many of us, myself included, have been guilty of purchasing more fresh produce then we need only to throw most of it out a few weeks later. When I used to work at a sushi train (a restaurant where a conveyor belt carries sushi throughout the room), I saw firsthand just how much food got wasted – especially at commercial establishments that are serving food in mass quantities, like restaurants and hotels. So, when there was an opportunity to volunteer at OZHarvest through their Cooking for a Cause initiative I knew this was something I had to do.

For those unfamiliar with OZHarvest, it is a food rescue organisation founded in Sydney in 2004. It is most well-known for collecting excess food from commercial outlets and distributing it to people in need across Australia. Each week it rescues 180 tons of food and delivers it to over 3,500 charities nationwide. It even has a food truck and a supermarket that allows those in need to take whatever they need free of charge.

Avanade Australia decided to that this was a worthy cause to mobilize for, so we organised teams in each of the 5 capital cities we operate in – Sydney, Perth, Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane — to go and participate. I was part of the Sydney Team. Under the watchful eye of Chef Marion and Chef Shae, we were put to work preparing a three-course meal using nothing but the surplus produce that was available.

The dishes on the menu were a lamb korma, eggplant moussaka and a traditional Scottish shortbread. 3 hours of hard work later, the 10 of us managed to create 200 meals that will go to those in need. And we had so much fun doing it! In the process we learned basic cooking techniques such as chopping an onion, preparing Béchamel sauce, kneading cookie dough and so much more. We were also treated to sample the food we had just created.

As someone passionate about cooking and making a positive impact in the world, it was a real joy to cook beside my Avanade colleagues and friends and know that the meal I was creating could give someone the strength they need to overcome whatever hardships they are going through. It brought to mind an experience I’d had one Easter when a friend and I decided to buy a small bag of chocolate Easter eggs and distribute it to all the homeless people in the city. Seeing the gratitude in their faces from such a simple gesture will stay with me forever. Knowing that my colleagues and I just did that 200 times over leaves me speechless. Seeing the smile on the faces of my friends lets me know they feel the same.

For this reason, and many more, I encourage you to give this a go. Even if all you get is a few cooking tips, a good day out with mates and great meal at the end of it all, then it is time well spent. I know that the impact of what we have just completed will be so much more than that. I will make sure to keep a watchful eye for the chance to do this again next year, perhaps with a bigger team, or even more than just once. And with opportunities to donate time and donations to worthy causes through the Avanade Gives program, I know there will plenty of way to impact the communities where each of us live and work.

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