Surplus Food

The recovery and distribution of surplus food – making it work!

rCITI researcher team: Dr Vinayak Dixit, Dr Taha Hossein Rashidi & Divya Jayakumar Nair

Thousands of tons of fresh food is thrown into landfill each year by the food industry, but not-for profit organisations like Foodbank and OzHarvest have come to the rescue, literally. They ‘rescuing’ this food and transport it to places and people who could benefit from it.

The concept is, however, more complex than it might seem – with real-life decision-making processes, handling risk and uncertainties considered critical in food rescue operations.

Collaboration aimed at driving efficiency

rCITI researchers have collaborated with Foodbank and OzHarvest to enhance the planning and management system by developing a decision support system for the real time recovery and distribution of surplus food – taking into consideration the uncertainties in recovery and fairness in distribution.

The core research conducted in the domains of demand modelling, clustering and dynamic vehicle routing algorithm development, simulation and optimisation.

Three primary areas of involvement

The specific activities for rCITI within this project consist of three primary aims:-

  • To understand the mobility needs of the vulnerable population and develop strategies so as to utilise these services for broader mobility outreach.
  • To conduct research and develop tools.
  • To implement learnings and introduce tools in situ.

Each activity is collaborative work between rCITI, Foodbank (Sydney) and OzHarvest (Sydney).

The total duration of the project is three years and includes three specific applications including a recovery prediction model, a distribution model accounting for equity and fairness, and a dynamic clustering and routing model which incorporates the uncertainty in recovery.