VnHarvest... Nhóm Tình Thuong _ Food re-distribution
Why was it initiated?
In June 2011, we began exploring the idea of a food re-distribution project in DaLat, Vietnam for 3 of the education-based community projects we were involved in. We had been supplying several months’ food on each occasion of our visits. Since our aim is to be sustainable, we hoped to interest large hotels and restaurants in being part of a project along the lines of OzHarvest – an Australian organisation which distributes excess food to the poor in their community. (http://www.ozharvest.org).
What are its aims?
To re-distribute good food to the poor in the community
In return, the recipients would agree to do something to bring themselves out of poverty – eg sent their children to free school
When did it start?
Who has been involved?
Lam Dong Blind Association Mr Truong
Happiness House Sr Nha
Cam Ly Minority Children’s Hostel Sr Dao
MESCH John Cassey, Kevin Fell
OzHarvest Ronni Khan, Louise Tran
Other Jacqueline Huynh and Sven Cahill (Vietnamese based social activists), La Vu Cuong ( Interpreter)
Having reviewed the available information on OzHarvest and getting support from Ronni Khan (director of OzHarvest), Hugh Borrowman (Australian ambassador, VN) and John McAnulty (Australian consul general, VN) we developed a model to be run in DaLat. Four hotels/ restaurants were identified who wished to become involved. As in the Australian model, excess food was collected at the times and days nominated by the hotels by a driver from one of the 3 involved charities. The food was distributed on the same day and the charities were to be responsible for resolution of logistical issues.
After a few months, Cam Ly pulled out citing no further need of support. It became clear that the excess from the hotels was insufficient to provide reliable supply year round and enthusiasm gradually diminished from both recipients and donors. We sought further donors. Again, with no effective co-ordination between recipients, these attempts also slowly failed. By 2016, only 1 charity (Happiness House) was being supported. Attempts to identify a local manager met no success.
Encouraged by that success, we elected to broaden the project to be culturally and developmentally more appropriate. In October 2014, we met with Jimmy Pham (founder KOTO foundation) in HCMC and decided that, In exchange for the redistributed excess food, recipients would show they could do something to eventually bring themselves out of need.
A number of potential supporters (General Director, HCMC Branch Commonwealth Bank, Vinacapital) were approached without success. Local support from John McAnulty (Australian consul-general) and Jimmy Pham (CEO KOTO) was obtained and Ronni Khan remained actively interested. A new model was conceived awaiting funding support.
In 2016, at the instigation of Louise Tran (Oz Harvest), meetings between Kevin Fell, Sven Cahill, Jacqueline Huynh and others were held in HCMC. Sven and Jacqueline produced a more detailed model and sought advice on how to set up a legal entity. Without VN based support, it was clear this would not work.
Louise Tran made contact in 2107 about creating a HCMC based “teaser” event to showcase the idea and seek local support. At the time of writing, Luke Nguyen has taken on the role of ambassador for VnHarvest and the event is scheduled for late May 2017
The children of Happiness house were noticeably better with more regular food – more robust and motivated, thriving and the recurrent respiratory and ear troubles were gone.
The probability that local charities can develop effective logistical processes to run this program on their own is low.
We are very interested in the outcomes of the HCMC event. Although we will certainly attempt to influence its direction towards developing training and skills, we consider any outcome that redistributes food as being a positive initiative. We would only remain involved if the training aspect were taken up.
What do we need to advance this?
Pending uptake of the idea, we need funding for MESCH project manager ~ 40000AUD pa for 5 years
Find food donors & distributors (there are 6 international transport companies looking at CSR)
Setup the legal entity (to register as not for profit)
Fund leasing for a warehouse with tables
Media: Videos for YouTube
Sister Nha (happiness house): "The cooks at Saphir DaLat hotel put the food and drink in plastic bags and our cook, Ms Giang, picks it up from them.When there is lots of food, I share it with others in need."