OzHarvest Market is a Sydney-based "rescued food" supermarket that invites customers to pay what they can - even if that's nothing at all. The business follows a "take what you need, give if you can" model, with all money reinvested back into the charity.
Earlier today, we paid a visit to OzHarvest's flagship store to check out what was on offer. The sheer variety of supermarket goods on display astounded us. Here are the pictures.
Located on Kensington's Anzac Parade, OzHarvest Market is Australia's first rescued food grocer. It comprises a single floor of products ranging from fresh fruit and frozen meals to confectionery and cosmetics. The vast bulk of goods are donated by supermarkets which OzHarvest personally collects and delivers to the store on a daily basis.
This was made possible by changes to state laws initiated by OzHarvest, which protects organisations from potential liability when they donate surplus food to charity. With that said, all food is fit for human consumption and of the highest quality.
During our visit, we spoke to OzHarvest's NSW manager Alicia Kirwan, who said support from the community had been overwhelming. There is no screening process for customers (everyone is welcome) and no rules when it comes to paying for what you take. Nevertheless, Kirwan said the vast majority of shoppers have shown the right spirit.
On the day of our visit, "thousands and thousands of dollars" had been donated in just four hours of operation. (Every $1 donated to OzHarvest translates to two meals it can deliver to people in need.) It would appear most people really can be trusted to take what they need and pay what they can. Faith in humanity restored!
The building, which used to be a hotel, has been temporarily donated by the development group TOGA. It also houses accommodation for vulnerable youth on the upper floor. OzHarvest Market has a surprisingly large footprint for a charity setup - it's larger than many independent grocery stores.
We visited OzHarvest Market well after closing time yet there were still plenty of food on the shelves. As you'd expect, canned goods are one of the most popular donation items among the general public. To help maintain stock levels, OzHarvest encourages customers to only buy what is needed for a day or two as opposed to a weekly shop.
OzHarvest Market is run exclusively by volunteers - and it's looking to extend its hours. If you live locally and can spare a few hours per week, head in and express your interest - training and a uniform will be provided. Volunteers must be over 18.
Handily, some foods are accompanied by recipe flyers that customers are invited to take home with them.
By and large, the quality of donated produce is no different to what you would find at Coles or Woolworths.
OzHarvest Market has the rustic charm of a small town green grocer: the handwritten cardboard slogans are an inviting touch.
Most items are in abundant supply which helps to ensure nobody leaves empty handed.
We were surprised by the amount of frozen food on offer at OzHarvest Market - everything from pies to pasta was well stocked.
In addition to groceries and staples, there's some fancy fare on offer for anyone who has a taste for it.
The emphasis at OzHarvest Market is on healthy staples - but people with a sweet tooth are equally well catered to.
Baked goodies for all!
Among the supermarket donations were boxes of "new and improved" Shapes. We'll let that speak for itself.
There were plenty of nuts on offer during our visit. These Macadamias would cost a pretty penny anywhere else: here you pay what you can.
OzHarvest Market isn't limited to just food: a handful of cosmetics and toiletries are also on offer.
It wouldn't be an Aussie grocery store without Vegemite.
OzHarvest Market is located at 147 Anzac Parade, Kensington, NSW. It is open weekdays between 10am and 2pm. Remember - take what you need, pay what you can!