The Inconvenience Store tackles ‘food waste crisis’

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The Inconvenience Store in Melbourne offers donated food that would otherwise be thrown away. Its opening coincides with stronger steps being taken nationwide to ramp up Australia’s war on waste.

Located in Thornbury in the city’s inner north, The Inconvenience Store is the creation of the team behind not-for-profit restaurant Lentil As Anything, which has branches in Sydney and Melbourne.

Like the restaurants, the Inconvenience Store is stocked with donated goods that would otherwise be destined for landfill.

The model is simple. The food is donated from a range of suppliers, including ALDI and local bakeries and markets. Some of it might be past its very best or look unusual – but all of it is safe to eat. Shoppers fill up their baskets and leave a donation in a wooden box on their way out.

“The food is free,” Project Coordinator Astrid Ryan explained. “We just ask if (customers) like what we’re doing, if they want this store to stay open, then to contribute what they can.”

The motivation for opening the store is the sheer quantity and cost of food waste in Australia. Recent research by Sustainability Victoria claims that Victorians alone chuck out food that equates to a cost of $5.4 billion every year.

The problem is so severe that the Victorian government recently launched a campaign to tackle the crisis, ‘Love Food Hate Waste’.

Although not part of this campaign, The Inconvenience Store shares the same goal.

“The idea was to make a difference in the food waste crisis,” Ms Ryan said. “We wanted to provide people access to nutritious fruit and vegetables.

“When people are in financial crisis or difficult situations, it’s probably the thing they have least access to. The more food is saved from going into landfill, the better it is for the environment and the more people that get fed.

“We also need volunteers, so there’s always ways to help out.”

The Inconvenience Store, 562-564 High St, Thornbury, Melbourne 3071. Opening hours 11am to 3pm.