Publications & Reports

Developing nutrition guidelines for recycled food to improve food security among homeless, asylum seekers, and refugees in Victoria, Australia

Wilson A, Szwed N, Renzaho A


Changes to the Good Samaritan Food Donation legislation in many developed countries has increased the utilization of donated food, yet the distribution of donated food continues to occur ad hoc. This study aimed to develop a method to assist food rescue charities in determining the number of nutritionally acceptable meals imparted by food collected and redistributed. A nutritionally acceptable recycled meal was defined as a meal that met 30% of the daily nutritional needs of an average adult aged 19 to 60 years.

An intensive placement with Melbourne-based food rescue charity SecondBite in 2007 enabled observation and examination of their food redistribution recording and analysis procedures. Participation in food redistribution drives and food preparation processes provided opportunities to consult with food donors, recipient charities, and beneficiaries.

The study found that food collection procedures determined the number of beneficiaries using a standard 250 g meal weight without consideration for the nutritional composition of the total food collected. We remodeled the standard meal and determined a standardized 500 g nutritionally acceptable meal. Significant changes to data collection methods during food collections, donations, and recording processes were recommended to permit a more accurate calculation of the number of nutritionally acceptable meals provided.

Food rescue charities need to develop and implement accurate and accountable methods for recording and analyzing their food redistribution efforts. If these methods are based on evidence- based nutritional guidelines, food rescue charities will have greater insight into the extent their service can impact on improving the nutritional intake of vulnerable groups.


  • Journal: Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition
  • Published: 04/09/2012
  • Volume: 7
  • Issue: 2-3
  • Pagination: 239-252