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FARESHARE FIGHTS HUNGER IN THE CLASSROOM

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FareShare cooks meals to boost the learning potential of children whose lack of nutrition may compromise their education.

Vulnerable teenagers attending the Prahran Community Learning Centre (PCLC) are the latest recipients of regular FareShare meals.

Khalik and Emily cook chili con carne for PCLC students

“As a large proportion of our students come from severely-disadvantaged households or currently have no regular home, the service provided by FareShare is for some the first time that they have had access to regular nutritious meals,”  explains PCLC’s Kirsty Hohenhaus.

“A significant cohort of our student population is secondary-aged students who have disengaged from mainstream education.” 

FareShare chefs prepare three wholesome, two-course meals a week especially for the PCLC students, and pass on rescued snacks, cereals and fruit, together with the odd treat such as home-baked cake.

FareShare’s Kellie Watson said a number of charities providing education for children needed support to ensure their students’ capability was not compromised by hunger or malnutrition.

“That’s where FareShare comes in,” said Kellie. “The agency can focus on education and we can ensure the students receive the nourishment they need to thrive. As well as making sure the food tastes great, our chefs work hard to make it LOOK appetising.”

PCLC provides a safe place for youth to re-engage with education and complete their VCAL, gaining practical work-related experience, as well as literacy and numeracy skills and the opportunity to build personal skills  important for life and work. Once a drop-in centre for residents on the Prahran Housing Estate, PCLC has evolved into a registered training organisation and a Senior Secondary Provider as part of the Learn Local sector.

FareShare has also begun supplying a kindergarten group of disadvantaged four-year-olds with a healthy lunch and snacks two days a week.

 

YES, WE HAVE A NEW WAREHOUSE!

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FareShare has just made an exciting investment to get more meals out to people in need.

After a long search, we have found an ideal warehouse in Derrimut, close to the food wholesalers in the western suburbs where our vans collect the bulk of our food. And the first food is in!

A man and his van: Pat ponders the possibilities of a warehouse full of food

The 1164 mpremises will increase our storage capacity tenfold and enable us to sort food and undertake basic food prepping on site in a temperature-controlled sorting room.

“This is an absolute game-changer which relieves a bottleneck that has been holding us back,” said FareShare CEO Marcus Godinho. “Anyone familiar with our current warehouse will know what a difference this will make.

“We will now be able to rescue and process more food – particularly valuable bulk product such as fresh meat. We will also be able to manage the vagaries of food rescue by accepting and storing food for the future. ”

The new FareShare distribution centre will house up to 250 pallets. It also offers an additional 90 pallets of freezer storage and 30 pallets of cool room space.

FareShare is extending our program with the Department of Justice and Regulation to enable small groups of offenders serving community-based orders to work at the site. They will assist with a range of task such as washing our homegrown veg, sorting meat and veg, and cleaning vans.

The new facility was made possible by generous financial support from the Ian Potter Foundation, Sargents Pies Charitable Foundation, Perpetual Trustees, Lions Club of the Melbourne Markets, Campbell Edwards Trust and GW Vowell Trust.

The project also received wonderful support from the FareShare community, including donations from many of our volunteers, who together raised more than $108,000.

We thank everyone who has contributed to this dramatic expansion which will enable us to rescue another 750 tonnes of perfectly-good food each year for our kitchen.

FEEDING SOME VERY SPECIAL CHILDREN THIS WINTER

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Our Winter Appeal is focused on creating meals for children who now make up one third of the people seeking food relief in Australia. For many kids, poverty and family breakdown are the main causes of food crisis.

Innocent, Theresa and Koko visit the FareShare kitchen

Others, like the kids helped by the Children First Foundation, face a multitude of challenges. Children like Theresa, Innocent and Koko who have come to Australia for life-changing surgery which isn’t available in their own countries.

Good nutrition is vital to building these children’s strength for surgery and rehabilitation. FareShare is proud to be providing them with nutritious meals and food.

“We serve food that the children like,” explains Pat Weldon, who manages Children First’s Miracle sMiles retreat in Kilmore. “They have to eat. We also need them to be as content and happy as can be.

“One of the biggest parts of our culture here is food. We spend a lot of time around the table – and we need an awful lot of food.

“Sometimes children arrive here very underweight and need to gain weight before they can be anaesthetised for surgery. They also have a lot of exercise and physio post-surgery which burns calories. They can’t afford to lose weight.

“FareShare’s support means we can spend money on the children’s clinical care such as medical equipment, dressings and bandages.  The food element is huge.”

Most kids supported by Children First spend around a year in Australia, often undergoing multiple procedures away from their families. Children like Theresa, who suffered horrific burns as an 8-year-old and couldn’t lift her head until burns contractures were released in Australia.

Please help FareShare provide good food to children to support their growth, social development and wellbeing. Your tax deductible donation will make a tangible difference to the lives of young people doing it tough this winter.

Gaining purpose in retirement through volunteering

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Simon Jenkinson – Volunteer of the Week, April 2017

 

When Simon joined our Friday morning kitchen crew in 2015 he was recently retired and was looking to do something worthwhile for the community.

For more than 30 years, Simon worked as a clinical psychologist running his own private practice specialising in drug and alcohol counselling. He finished his career working with students at the RMIT Counselling Service. Throughout his working life he had undertaken skilled volunteering but rolling up his sleeves in the FareShare kitchen was the first time he had turned his hand to unpaid manual work.

Simon with fellow volunteer and movie buff Jill

Volunteering is an important component of Simon’s “transition to retirement” plan. As well as volunteering at FareShare, he also teaches English to asylum seekers one day a week through the Brotherhood of St Laurence.  He knows that transition to retirement can be challenging – especially for men whose identity is often tied up very closely with their work. Two years down the track, Simon believes he has adjusted to being “retired”.

Simon especially enjoys the social dimension of his Friday morning shift in the FareShare kitchen which he shares with other book and film buffs. Simon is a mad Lord of the Rings fan – he loved the book and the movies. In fact he loves all SciFi movies and regards 2001 A space Odyssey as a timeless classic.

Reflecting on volunteering at FareShare, Simon feels a real sense of loyalty to his fellow crew. He is cognisant that every task he completes benefits those in need. He has done a lot of volunteering over his lifetime and believes FareShare is outstanding in organising and managing our volunteers. He likes the simple system we have for notifying an absence and appreciates that every contact he has with us is acknowledged.

Thanks Simon – we appreciate your loyalty to the Friday crew and to FareShare.

A demanding job and volunteering go hand in hand for Huong

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Huong Le – Volunteer of the Week, April 2017

 

They say that if you want something done, ask a busy person. It’s a maxim that fits FareShare volunteer Huong Le to a tee.

Huong spends her working life in the skies, serving as a customer services manager on long-haul Qantas flights on 747 and A330 aircraft. On any given week she could be in South Africa, South America, the US or Asia.

Huong (left) with fellow volunteer & ex-Qantas colleague Elizabeth

Naturally she loves travelling and says she cannot sit still. And if her demanding job is not enough, she is also studying part-time for a Juris Doctor in Law and her Masters in Aviation Management.

Huong was born in Saigon and fled by boat to Australia in 1975 with her family. They were rescued by a US ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean after seven days at sea.

Huong and her family spent four months in a refugee camp in Guam before they settled in Melbourne when Huong was just 10 and English a foreign language.

“We didn’t have a lot when we were seeking refuge,” said Huong who remembers feeling hungry and grateful to the US Navy personnel who gave them dried biscuits, congee, two- minute noodles and a little bit of water.

The experience seems to have sparked a real passion in Huong to ‘give back’ especially around food. Her favourite kitchen task is cutting meat.

Huong loves volunteering on Wednesday nights and enjoys her interaction with fellow volunteers who are all “lovely and interesting”. She was also delighted to bump into  former colleague and fellow volunteer Elizabeth Sinclair (see photo) while on a make-up shift one Monday. Their encounter marked the 50th anniversary of Elizabeth’s first day at Qantas where according to Huong she is regarded as a bit of a legend.

FareShare is deeply grateful to Huong for making FareShare volunteering part of her life journey.

HELP US FEED CHILDREN THIS WINTER

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As winter looms FareShare is determined to feed as many children as possible.

Since the start of this year, we have received multiple requests to supply meals for children. We always do our best to respond and recently started helping two additional schools and two new children’s charities.

Can you help directly fund the production of nutritious meals for kids in crisis?

Children in crisis accommodation walk to school where a FareShare lunch awaits.

It costs us just 75 cents to produce one meal, that’s around $3 to feed a family of four or $63 to feed that family for a week. Your tax-deductible donation will not only help us feed disadvantaged families this winter, it will enable us to go the extra mile to cater to the special needs and tastes of children.

It might be spaghetti meatballs or lasagna for primary school children in public housing.  Or lunchbox treats, such as zucchini slice and cake with fresh fruit, for young kids in crisis accommodation. Or veg-packed sausage rolls and pies for teenagers at risk.

Cynthia Johnston, who manages LiveWires, an after-school program for primary school children on the Collingwood public housing estate, says a FareShare meal may be the only hot meal of the day for a child.

“We feed kids who haven’t had anything at lunch or recess,” says Cynthia.  “The FareShare food is a huge help for us. We target kids who really need it.  We put what’s left over in takeaway containers at the end of the night to help siblings and families as well.

“With FareShare slipping in hidden veggies, we ensure the kids are getting the nutrition they need.”

Please consider a donation to help FareShare provide good food to children to support their growth, social development and wellbeing.

FARESHARE DELIVERS WEEKLY BOX OF FRESH FOOD FOR STRUGGLING FAMILIES

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FareShare has teamed up with fruit and milk delivery company The Fruit Box Group to distribute 25,000 boxes of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk and bread to families in need.

The One Box initiative targets 1,000 families who are struggling to afford healthy food with each one receiving a box of fresh produce every week.

“This is a great initiative to support families facing serious disadvantage with the fresh, healthy food most of us take for granted,” said FareShare CEO Marcus Godinho. “The aim is to ensure families receive sustainable support every week and we have put on an extra vehicle and driver to make this happen.”

Pastor Joy and Kris Jack at Kingston City Church are thrilled with The One Box leg-up for families

Since launching in May, The One Box program has provided 10,000 boxes of fresh food to the value of $25 to families in need. Donated by The Fruit Box Group and delivered by FareShare, the boxes are making a real difference according to the charities which hand them out.

Sharee Grinter of West Footscray Neighourhood House said: “With fresh food so expensive it’s often the first to fall off the list when resources are stretched, so a weekly box of good quality nutritious food will have a huge impact on the health and wellbeing of families in need.”

FareShare has set up a new run to deliver the donated food to charities supporting families in acute need including Kingston City Church, Mullum Mullum Indigenous Gathering and Fawkner Community House.

The Fruit Box Group is investing up to $400,000 in the Melbourne pilot and aims to expand the program.

“In a plentiful country like Australia, it’s shocking that so many families are going without,” said The Fruit Box Group CEO and founder Martin Halphen. “We believe that one box of fresh produce each week can make a real difference to families in need, hopefully creating a healthy foundation for children now and having a lifetime influence on health.”

The impact of the first 25 weeks of The One Box will be assessed by La Trobe Business School in November.

The Rotary Club of Balwyn has keenly supported FareShare for nearly a decade and we are grateful to its members for getting behind this exciting new initiative.

FARESHARE BREAKS GROUND WITH RECORD SWEET POTATO HARVEST

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The first harvest of Melbourne’s largest planting of sweet potato commenced today at our Abbotsford kitchen garden.

The cultivation of a global staple, rarely seen in Melbourne gardens, is part of an innovative partnership between FareShare and the Burnley Campus of the University of Melbourne. The bulk of the sweet potatoes have been planted on the Baguley family farm in Clayton South where Les Baguley has generously provided a substantial area for FareShare to grow veggies.

Yes! Volunteer Kit shows sweet potatoes can thrive in Melbourne

Dr Chris Williams’ Novel Crops Project, based at the Burnley Campus, is investigating around 30 new food plants and varieties for Melbourne. Its aim is to broaden crop choice for home and community gardeners, local councils and nurseries with plants such as sweet potato, taro and ginger.

“This is the first time sweet potato has ever been planted on this scale in Melbourne,” said Dr Williams. “Some of the varieties we are trialling at FareShare don’t even have a name yet.”

The Novel Crops Project promotes the concept of “edible landscapes” – attractive gardens that also provide food.

Our five varieties of home-grown sweet potatoes

“The low GI, versatile and easy-to- prepare sweet potato is a welcome ingredient for FareShare’s nutritious meals,” said Kellie Watson, FareShare’s general manager. “It will enable to us better support migrant groups and develop more culturally-appropriate recipes. The sweet potatoes will be used in a variety of FareShare dishes including curries and soups.”

The sweet potato plants were propagated by urban horticulture students from Burnley and by refugees and migrants doing English language courses at the Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre (CNLC). The CNLC students also received basic horticultural training at Burnley focused on food plants. As a result, 1000 tubes of five different sweet potato varieties were given to FareShare last December. Continue reading

HOW FARESHARE CAKE HELPS CHILDREN IN CRISIS

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Losing your home, changing schools and living in crisis accommodation can put a huge strain on young children.

A new collaboration with Launch Housing makes the journey a little easier by providing primary school children with a lunchbox complete with specially-baked FareShare cake.

Michelle McDonald facilitates an Education Pathways Program called STEP to re-engage children in primary school. There are currently more than 20 children taking part in the program, travelling to a primary school within the southern region of Melbourne on a walking school bus.

“They don’t have ovens at home,” explains Michelle. “Some families have even come from cars.

Lunch is a highlight for these kids. With FareShare’s support they enjoy healthy sandwiches, at least two bits of fruit, a couple of snacks such as zucchini slice or hard boiled eggs, and CAKE.

“The FareShare food is gold. It brings joy every day. When we put out the cake the first time it was polished off straightaway and became a talking point. Our kids are having lunches that other kids want.”

Social inclusion is a big part of the program and showing off their special lunches, made to order by the program’s staff, volunteers and mothers at school, helps build confidence and fight stigma.

“Other kids in the school see the food and want to be part of the program. It is seen as a good thing which is very important to the STEP children,” says Michelle.

FareShare passes on rescued food, bakes cakes and prepares snacks on a weekly basis to support the program.

Happily, by the time they complete the STEP program, 90 per cent of children are attending school regularly.