Food Assistance | FareShare Food Charity

Food assistance

What we cook and how to receive food assistance

FareShare supplies free nutritious meals and other rescued food to charities across Victoria. Most charities collect our meals from Foodbank Victoria’s Yarraville warehouse which supports nearly 500 agencies around the state. FareShare also deliver meals direct to a growing number of charities and schools.

What we cook depends on what businesses donate and we can rescue. We  cook two types of meals: “ready to eat meals” such as casseroles, pastas, curries, tagines, and savoury pastries such as egg and bacon pies, quiches ,and vegetable and meat sausage rolls.

We endeavour to make our meals as nutritious and tasty as possible. The majority of our meals are frozen once packed for longevity and safety. Our ready to eat meals are vacuum-sealed in 1.2kg pouches.

For more information about our meals please call Chris Mitchison on 03 9428 0044 or email

Are you looking for food?

Unfortunately we are not in a position to serve up or hand out food to people directly. However, all of our meals are given to charities for free and they must pass them on to people in their community for free.

To find a community food program near you, please contact your local council.

Food poverty in Victoria

For many people the words ‘hunger’ and ‘malnutrition’ conjure up images of starvation in Horn of Africa countries and developing nations in Asia. Most Australians are unaware that hunger and malnutrition also exist much closer to home.

There are hundreds of charities across Victoria that serve meals or hand out food parcels to people in their communities who have fallen on hard times. Last year FareShare helped more than 400 of these groups with our rescued food and cooked meals.

According to the 2017 Foodbank Hunger Report,  3.6 million Aussies – 15 per cent of the population – experienced at least one occasion of food insecurity in the previous 12 months. In Victoria, more than a quarter of these were children with welfare agencies estimating an average 31 per cent more food is need to meet overall demand.

Those in need include the elderly and isolated, people experiencing homelessness, single parent families, women escaping domestic violence, Indigenous people and new migrants. An increasing number of younger people, including students, are also turning to help together with a new cohort of working poor unable to cover the increased costs of housing, utilities and food.

Many people facing crisis particularly struggle to afford fresh, nutritious food. It has become more expensive to buy fresh fruit, vegetables and lean meat than it is to purchase highly processed food with less nutritional value. This is the modern face of hunger.

Australia’s economic statistics look impressive next to many other countries, but they fail to convey that too many in our society are struggling. Adults are skipping meals, children are going to school without breakfast or lunch, and many families cannot afford healthy food. The modern face of hunger is a mother at your school, the guy next to you on the train, the person in the cubicle next to you at work, or a child your child plays with.

Where our meals go

Our meals are distributed to hundreds of charities across Melbourne and regional Victoria. These agencies run soup vans, homeless shelters, support groups for single mothers and school breakfast programs. They include large groups like the Salvation Army and the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre, as well as small community food programs.

Some of them serve our meals, others pack them in parcels for people to take away.

Once cooked in our kitchen, we chill our meals and immediately deliver them for serving within a couple of days. We can only provide this service to charities serving large numbers of meals. For example, we cook and deliver lunch for 160 people at the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre every day.

We provide all our meals to agencies free of charge, and they must guarantee to give them away for free to the men, women and children in need of support within their communities.

Charities that receive our meals

No one gets left behind by Father Bob

Father Bob Maguire Foundation supports some of the most disadvantaged people in Melbourne including increasing numbers facing homelessness and isolation.

All Father Bob’s meals are served in parks and open spaces were diners can enjoy their food in a sociable environment. Its food van service is more like a picnic than a soup van. Volunteers serve food from tables and greet diners who can choose from an array of healthy options.

In 2016, FareShare provided Father Bob’s with 25 tonnes of food and thousands of our ready to eat meals.

“We believe that if you feed people nutritious food, they will feel better physically, psychologically and emotionally,” says Father Bob whose charity hands out food to 600 people per week.

Customised deliveries for Vinnies soup van

The St Vincent de Paul Society has five soup vans that travel the streets of Melbourne, Berwick and Moe. Since early February 2014, FareShare has been supplying soup in 10 litre containers to Vinnie’s Matthew Talbot Soup Van, which operates out of Our Lady’s Parish Hall in Maidstone.

Servicing the areas of Maidstone, Footscray and Williamstown, the van visits regular addresses that include boarding houses, housing ministry flats, a women’s refuge, Half Moon Caravan Park, and a stop outside the Whitten oval.

Many of the people who visit the van are not homeless, but struggle in their lives due to alcohol or substance abuse or mental illness. The van’s volunteers provide them with welcome food and company, and perhaps more importantly, acceptance of some of society’s most marginalised people.

People who have turned to charity for food

Nick Koutsou

There was no saving the weatherboard rental property on Ballarat Rd and the hungry flames that devoured all of their material possessions left them with an aching hunger of their own.

The single dad found himself not only without a table to put meals on for his three boys aged between 11 and 13, he found himself without meals at all.

Read more

“It’s terrible mate, gut-wrenching,” Mr Koutsou said “If I was on my own it would be different but with three kids, just to watch their faces and hear ‘I’m hungry, Dad’.”

Mr Koutsou spoke with palpable measure of despair and exhaustion.

He sat with forearms to knees in a communal room at SalvoConnect in Belmont, which offers emergency accommodation. His boys Zac, 13, Matthew, 12, and Steven, 11, occupied themselves quietly on computers across the room.

“Now we’re shattered, gutted,” Mr Koutsou said. “We lost everything, pets, everything. We couldn’t find any support till we found this place. We were literally in the car.”

Mr Koutsou, a chef by trade, is a full-time parent and was uninsured when a suspected electrical problem started the blaze.

Mr Koutsou said within a week the family was forced into visiting Geelong’s central city welfare meals outlet Outpost.

“It was hard at first, but when the kids’ bellies are rumbling you’ll go anywhere,” he said.

Now he sums up their next option in one word, “dunno”.

Mr Koutsou said things were good before the flames but his story had underlined what might lie around a corner and revealed how close a family could be to desperate.

Words by Danny Lannen, Geelong Advertiser
Pictures by Mike Dugdale

Adrian and Jeannie Cole (and daughters Jessica and Julietta)

IMAGINE struggling so much that you are down to your last 20c piece.  The Cole family knows the feeling.

“There is nothing worse than lying awake at 3am worrying about what you’re going to be doing the next day for money,” dad Adrian said.

Injured while working on a timber yard, he was unemployed for 10 years.

Read more

“I couldn’t get a job because as soon as I mentioned I’d made a WorkCover claim, no one would employ me and I couldn’t lie to them about it,” he said.

Mr Cole finally got work as a security guard, but it’s an unstable vocation with casual hours and week-by-week rosters.

“The uncertainty is very hard on the family and the money becomes tighter.”

Food has to take a back seat to other costs. Rent goes up every year. The power bill rises, as does the gas.

The worst is petrol – “that’s a shocker” Mr Cole notes – and the car always needs fixing.

Despite this, the obviously very close-knit family of four exudes a defiant pride.

They’ll go without when needed, sacrificing things like school camps and excursions.

Mum Jeannie sells Avon, Mr Cole sometimes gets a lift to work to save on petrol. They pay bills in instalments.

As for holidays? “I don’t believe in holidays,” Mr Cole said.

His pay cheque barely hits his bank account before it is needed for living costs.
“Yesterday I paid one bill, the rent and for food. Now I’ve got about $68 left in the account to last us till the next pay day,” he said.

Words by Rebecca David
Pictures by Hilton Stone