Meals for the Mob

First Nations people represent the world’s oldest continuous culture, rich in history, diversity, language and culture. Yet research shows that food insecurity among First Nations peoples is disproportionately high, especially in remote communities where it is often hard to access affordable nutritious food.

Improving food security with nutritious meals will help address the adverse health impacts associated with limited access to healthy food in these communities. At the same time, we can give children the best start in life and give these communities the best chance of Closing The Gap.

FareShare is committed to reconciliation and working closely in consultation with, and alongside, First Nations communities to develop a range of food relief programs that are empowering, community driven and adaptive.

To achieve this, FareShare has launched a pioneering Meals for the Mob program. 

Meals for the Mob - the pilot program

Meals for the Mob was developed in consultation with First Nations communities and services to provide targeted food relief in the form of free, nutritious and tasty ready-to-eat meals.

In late 2021-early 2022, we ran a pilot program in four regional Queensland and Northern NSW communities over a 3-month period. The objectives of this landmark pilot were to: 

  • Involve First Nations communities and partners at each stage of program development, implementation and evaluation. 
  • Work with dietetic partners to develop master recipes that the pilot communities find familiar and tasty and which contain consistent and targeted nutrition. 
  • Increase access to nutritious meals, decrease food insecurity and contribute towards the improvement of diets and the mental and physical health of the recipients. 
  • Test ‘proof of concept’ for the development of an adaptive food relief program that can address the varying requirements of different First Nations communities.

The pilot program delivered 20,850 tasty, nutritious meals to First Nations communities and services, supporting families and individuals experiencing food insecurity.

FareShare obtained feedback from community groups, locals, Elders, health professionals and other key stakeholders. Our meals were very well received and culturally appropriate. Success was reinforced by all four pilot communities electing to continue receiving FareShare meals to help provide food relief in their local areas.

Meals for the Mob - how it works

Working with First Nations communities

Jason Mollenhauer, FareShare’s First Nations Officer, works alongside local Elders, leaders and communities and seeks permission from Local Aboriginal Land Councils and tribal groups before partnering with community services. 

Jason provides a personal, consistent point of contact and works to build rapport and engage at a deep community level. This enables him to gather regular feedback and work to complement existing programs and community services. 

By placing trust and on-the-ground relationship building as key tenets of Meals for the Mob, we have gained endorsement from leaders, laying the foundations to expand our work in First Nations communities. 

Selecting the recipes

Master recipes for our meals have been developed by FareShare’s Head Chef in collaboration with the University of Queensland’s Dietetics Department to maximise nutrition and deliver an appealing, familiar taste profile. 

Meat, fruit and vegetables are often consumed less regularly due to lack of availability and cost, particularly within remote and very remote communities. Adequate intake of protein and vegetables minimises an individual’s overall risk of malnutrition, preventing worsening chronic disease outcomes over time. 

As a result, Meals for the Mob focuses on maximising the intake of protein and vegetables within food insecure communities, whilst maintaining low levels of saturated fat, sodium, and sugar, and factoring in other considerations such as prevalent chronic diseases and the generally high iron deficiency levels within First Nations communities.

Cooking the meals

As of April 2024, FareShare has cooked more than 200,000 Meals for the Mob for our partner First Nations communities in Queensland and Northern New South Wales. 

Meals for the Mob are cooked in FareShare’s Meanjin (Brisbane) kitchen by local First Nations groups, services and schools, alongside corporate groups with a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) or who are contributing to the program.

If you organisation meets these criteria and you would like to get involved at our next Meals for the Mob cook-up in our Meanjin kitchen, please email to enquire. 

Delivering our tailored meals to First Nations communities

Meals for the Mob are now being delivered into nine remote First Nations communities. These include Doomadgee, Yarrabah, Cherbourg, Casino, Lismore, Ballina, and our most remote location: Mornington Island (roughly 2,700kms from our kitchen; see map, below).

We hope to expand into eight additional communities by the end of 2025. 

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