Food rescue is used in the emergency food sector internationally to reduce waste and improve food supplies to frontline providers and their clients. The purpose of this paper is to provide a perspective on why and how food rescue occurs in Australia. It also examines food rescue as a potential evolution within the emergency food setting.
A descriptive study of SecondBite, an Australian food rescue organisation, was conducted. Documents were reviewed, 14 weeks of participant observation occurred, and two focus group discussions were held. Framing analysis was used to design the research questions (why rescue food? and how?). The description of the organisation was then examined against critical literature to establish how food rescue conforms to and/or challenges the traditional limitations of emergency food.
Food rescue requires multiple resources within the emergency food space including surplus food, funding and labour. The frames used to justify this work provide an insight into the “problem” of food poverty in Australia and the “solution” of food rescue. The script for “people in need” requiring “fresh food” is well developed by SecondBite, with some tension around food waste reduction as a competing and yet complementary mission.
In light of the growing role of the not for profit sector in a “big society” political order, the rescuing of nutritious food for emergency parcels and meals, may provide some benefits for people already using emergency food. The opportunity for food rescue organisations to play a role in food poverty prevention requires further attention.
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