By ERWIN CHLANDA
A new scheme to make good use of slightly blemished supermarket food will benefit more than 200 employees of the Aboriginal Tangentyere Council but not – it seems – the unemployed or destitute in Alice Springs.
The Coles Community Food SecondBite program, a national initiative, will “provide a healthy and nutritious breakfast meal for more than 200 employees every day,” according to a media release, aiming to deliver more than 15,000 meals in the first year of the project.
SecondBite CEO Elaine Montegriffo, asked why the food was not provided to people who don’t have a job, said: “There is no question there are other people in need but this is where we’re starting.
“It’s also about organisations that are able to use the food. Tangentyere have kitchen facilities that can actually prepare meals. Part of it is a pragmatic thing. It’s not choosing one over another.”
She said Tangentyere Council workers “are coming from the town camps, so they are coming a long distance” and the objective is to “provide them with a really healthy, hearty breakfast to start the day.”
Most town camps are within a five kilometer radius of the Tangentyere premises in the town’s industrial area.
Coles is a major supplier of liquor in Alice Springs, and there have been concerns with other local food programs that they may free up cash for the purchase of grog.
Coles NT Regional Manager Andrew Folks says the supermarket isn’t placing any condition on the participants: “That will be SecondBite’s challenge.”
Ms Montegriffo says: “We don’t put conditions on the way the food is used. We provide the food for free. The only condition is that the agencies that take our food don’t charge.”
Mr Folks says products supplied are fruit and veg with “a little bit of bruising which you can easily cut off,” bread “left over from today’s bake,” tins with a small dint or a torn packets with the inside still intact.
These are goods “rescued” from being taken to the landfill, says Ms Montegriffo.
The media release says through the national program, managed by SecondBite, Coles has already donated more than a million kilograms of food to more than 300 community food programs, the equivalent of two million meals.
Tangentyere’s Liam O’Sullivan did not respond to our request for comment.
PICTURED are Coles Alice Springs manager Sarah Vivian and deputy manager, Glenn Harvey, with the kind of food provided for the program.