Yarra Mayor Roberto Colanzi with Marcus and volunteers Norma and Fiona. Photo: Bernie Phelan
FareShare has been recognised as Community Service of the Year by Yarra City Council.
The award for making an ‘outstanding contribution’ to Yarra was announced on Australia Day and collected by FareShare president David Harris on behalf of staff and volunteers.
The acknowledgement follows our biggest year ever. We cooked a total of 1,131,231 meals, redistributed the equivalent of 602,660 more (food we don’t cook but pass straight on to other charities) and rescued 562 tonnes of food.
Our regular volunteers grew from 500 to 750 and they cooked 5000 meals EVERY DAY. All up some 8000 volunteers, including secondary school students and corporate volunteers, made a difference in our kitchen.
Our free, nutritious meals were enjoyed by people in need across the state and beyond with 30 per cent now distributed to rural and regional Victoria.
We thank all of our generous supporters, food donors and volunteers who share the award and look forward to cooking even more meals for the hungry in 2016.
Victorians serving court or parole orders are being given the opportunity to work in the FareShare kitchen as part of their community service.
The innovative program aims to help FareShare increase production while promoting positive behaviour change among offenders. The first shift took place last week and the program will run when the kitchen is normally closed on Friday evenings – to be extended to Sundays if successful.
The Department of Justice and Regulation, North West Metropolitan Area, is financially supporting the pilot project and will donate produce through its ‘Cultivating Place Cultivating People’ program, a network of community gardens where other offenders grow vegetables.
Dr Peter Ewer, Executive Director, said the partnership “provides an important opportunity for offenders to actively give back to the most vulnerable members of our community, and at the same point improve their job skills, thus steering them away from further offending.”
FareShare general manager Kellie Watson, who developed the pilot project with the Department of Justice, said she hoped the program would be a win-win outcome for the community, leading to thousands more meals for those in need while offering a positive rehabilitation experience for participants.
Susie Scott growing edible gardens in the Pilbara
In her last role establishing edible gardens and promoting healthy eating among Pilbara Indigenous communities, Susie Scott’s main challenges were relentless heat and foraging cows.
As FareShare’s inaugural kitchen garden manager, her challenge will be to plug unpredictable gaps in our vegetable supplies within the limits of Melbourne’s growing season.
“I will have to balance what chefs need with what can be grown consistently,” said Susie who is assessing vegetables which offer flexibility in planting and harvest times, such as carrots and parsnips.
FareShare’s kitchen gardens at Moorabbin Airport and Abbotsford (in partnership with RACV) are currently under development with plans to commence planting at both sites by the end of February.
Susie is not worried about cows – but she will have her eye on possums, aphids and ants!
Enterprising Sunshine College students at work in our kitchen
More than 3000 students volunteered at FareShare in 2015 and our Schools in the Kitchen program is now booked out for 2016.
Last year secondary students came from 80 schools from the public and private sectors including disadvantaged government schools in urban, regional, country and remote Indigenous areas – some with grant assistance from the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation.
Our unique experiential learning activity empowers students to make a tangible contribution to the community inspiring school food drives, fundraisers and even social enterprises.
A visit by Sunshine College VCAL students sparked a partnership with local businesses which donate food for the students to cook meals for families in the school community.
FareShare’s Dianna Chapman said students gain a huge sense of pride in the FareShare kitchen.
“It’s not often they are provided with an opportunity to volunteer. One Year 9 student from Ballarat Grammar recently told me that this was the highlight of her 4 week City Experience – even better than laser tag. You can’t beat that for positive feedback!”