Johannesburg, South Africa
|Nationality||Australian / South African / Israeli|
|Known for||Founder of the Australian food rescue charity OzHarvest|
Born in South Africa, Kahn moved to Israel where she lived on a kibbutz for many years before emigrating to Australia in 1998 and starting an events management business. On a vacation to South Africa, she was galvanised into action by a friend when visiting Soweto who told her that "she was responsible for electricity in Soweto". Kahn recalls that was the moment her life of purpose began. I knew I had to come back and do something meaningful for other people..." Building on her experience in corporate hospitality, she was shocked by the amount of food waste, although not initially aware of the relationship between food waste and environmental problems.
Kahn founded OzHarvest in 2004, initially with the support of people in the restaurant and catering industries in Sydney. It is a non-denominational charity that rescues excess food which would otherwise be discarded and distributes it to charities supporting the vulnerable around Australia. After lobbying for changes to civil liability and health legislation that prevented food donors from supplying excess food, the legislation was changed in four Australian states starting in New South Wales in 2005. Kahn says OzHarvest "delivers the equivalent of 25 million meals a year that would otherwise be dumped". Kahn was behind the creation of the NEST program – Nutrition, Education & Sustenance Training – which aims to educate vulnerable Australians about nutrition and healthy eating, providing valuable life skills to disadvantaged and marginalised communities.
In her advocacy, Kahn highlights the broader global issues affecting food waste. In 2017 OzHarvest for the fifth year partnered with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) on the Think.Eat.Save Campaign. In December 2014 Ronni travelled to attend the Sustainable Innovation Forum in Lima, Peru as part of the Think.Eat.Save campaign - held at the margins of the UNFCCC Climate Change Conference. The event served to remind delegates of the level that food waste contributes to dangerous greenhouse gasses which affect climate change and the amount of resources squandered when food is wasted. She has said that "If food waste was a country, it would be the third biggest emitter of carbon and methane gas after the US and China".
In 2018, Kahn was looking for a location in Sydney to establish a refettorio in collaboration with Italian chef and restaurateur Massimo Bottura, whom she had met in 2016 and who established a series not-for-profit restaurants that aim “to empower communities to fight food waste through social inclusion”. The plan is for OzHarvest to look after the site, operations, volunteers and supply of rescued food as well as communicate with agencies that supply food to people in need. In 2020, the chosen site for the OzHarvest Refettorio was announced as 481 Crown Street, Sydney.
Food Fighter (2018)
A biographical/documentary film about Kahn's crusade to reduce food waste was released in 2018. It was produced and directed by Daniel Goldberg over two years and covers Kahn's efforts in Australia, the United Kingdom, South Africa and Thailand.
A Repurposed Life (2020)
Kahn's memoir A Repurposed Life was released in 2020. Kahn said: “I didn’t grow up being ambitious about anything, but when you find your calling, then you are empowered by a force that is unstoppable.''
Ronni Kahn has been acknowledged as a leader in the fields of entrepreneurship, social impact and innovation. Her contributions have been widely recognised through numerous awards including:
- 2010 Australia's Local Hero, Australian of the Year Awards, in recognition of her work founding OzHarvest.
- 2010 Enriched List, American Express
- 2011 InStyle Woman of Style Award - Community /Charity category
- 2012 Veuve Clicquot Award Business Woman Tribute Award for Innovation, Entrepreneurial Skill and Contribution to the Community
- 2012 Ernst & Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year
- 2017 BOSS magazine Top 21 True Leaders
- 2017 Gourmet Traveller Outstanding Contribution to Hospitality
- 2017 Griffith University Doctor of the University (honoris causa)
- 2018 The Australian Financial Review 100 Women of Influence award for social enterprise and not-for-profit
- 2019 Officer of the Order of Australia (AO). For distinguished service to social welfare, particularly through the development and delivery of innovative programs.
- "Australia Day 2012". Wagga Wagga City Council. Archived from the original on 25 April 2012. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
- "Ronni Kahn" (streaming video). The Enriched List. 2010. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
- Wood, Stephanie (1 June 2019). "'We are gluttons': our excessive food habits are creating a global wasteland". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
- "Rich harvest: Ronni Kahn, Founder of OzHarvest". Women in Focus. Commonwealth Bank. 26 September 2011. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
- NSW Civil Liability Act 2002 - Sect 58C
- wearethenest.com.au, The Nest -. "NEST - Nutrition Education Sustenance Training - OzHarvest". OzHarvest. Retrieved 2018-11-23.
- Spring, Alexandra (4 April 2019). "Michelin-starred chef Massimo Bottura to open community restaurant for homeless in Sydney". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
- Bolles, Scott (6 July 2020). "Top Italian chef Massimo Bottura to open OzHarvest Refettorio in Sydney". Good Food.
- "Food Fighter (2018)". IMDb. 2018.
- Kahn, Ronni; Chapnik, Jessica (2020). A Repurposed Life. Crows Nest, N.S.W. Australia: Murdoch Books Australia. ISBN 9781760525903.
- McManus, Bridget (26 December 2020). "Keeping treasurers and celebrity chefs onside in the war on food waste". The Sydney Morning Herald.
- "Ronni Kahn 2010 Local Hero Award". National Australian Day Council. Archived from the original on 5 January 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2011.
- Patten, Sally (2018-10-17). "Women of Influence 2018 winner fights for recognition of Indigenous Australians". Australian Financial Review. Retrieved 2018-10-18.