The session was the first OzHarvest engagement as part of the AIS Community Partnerships Program and was delivered together with the Victorian Institute of Sport (VIS). Six VIS support staff members also attended the session.
“We were approached by the AIS Sport, Wellbeing and Engagement team around doing this exercise with OzHarvest. It was a great way to bring our athletes together off their respective playing fields and a great way to give back to an initiative that is a great organization,” VIS Dietitian Emily Meehan said.
Meehan also highlighted that it was a good opportunity to bring the focus for the athletes away from nutrition as fuel and instead talking about sustainability and helping those that struggle to get enough food on the table.
OzHarvest is Australia’s leading food rescue organisation with a driving purpose to ‘Nourish our Country’ by stopping good food from going waste and delivering it to people in need.
Last year two million households went hungry according to the Foodbank Hunger Report. OzHarvest helps by delivering 450,000 a week while also saving good food from ending up in landfill.
Chef Jill from OzHarvest led the the VIS athletes and staff through the cooking session while educating them on how they could reduce food waste in their own homes.
The participants took about 50kgs of food that OzHarvest had rescued and made them into chef quality meals.
VIS Rowing athlete Milla Marston was excited about the opportunity to give back to the community by cooking meals for people in need.
“I have always been very passionate about food security, waste and the environment and OzHarvest encapsulates all of that into their great initiative,” she said.
Paralympic champion Ben Fawcett (Wheelchair Rugby) said that his reason for getting involved with OzHarvest was to learn more about how he could reduce food waste in his home.
“I would encourage any other athletes to get involved with community-led initiatives like OzHarvest. There are so many opportunities out there to get involved and help out where you can,” he said.
For the VIS support staff who helped facilitate the session, the purpose for the athletes was broadening perspectives and gratitude while developing ‘living out of home skills’ and deepening connections amongst them.
“Not only are you coming here to learn about cooking, but you are learning about how to reduce waste of food,” Meehan said.
“Nutrition isn’t just about fueling your body, it’s about bringing people together but also making sure that we are using everything and that we are not wasting food, so that the people that do need it can get that food as well.”
The session came together in a collaborative effort between the AIS Sport Wellbeing and Engagement team and the VIS Performance Lifestyle team. The VIS Nutrition department was looped in to support and maximise the learning, and to plan potential follow-up activities to support their work with the athletes.
Click here to learn about OzHarvest Cooking for a Cause program.
For more information on the AIS Community Partnerships programs, click here.