In 2000, a pastry chef called Guido Pozzebon started cooking 300 pies every Saturday morning for the Salvation Army and St Vincent de Paul. Guido and a group of friends would meet at the RACV Club and use surplus food accumulated over the week to cook savoury pastries. Within months the group was calling itself One Umbrella and was rescuing food that would otherwise be wasted.
Seperately a Melburnian named Steven Kolt returned from a visit to the United States inspired by the work of New York City Harvest, an organisation which rescues food for the needy. Steven was a member of Jewish Aid (now Stand Up) and together with other members started collecting prepared meals from function halls and catering venues. They called the project Melbourne City Harvest.
While many businesses were keen to provide FareShare with their surplus food, legal barriers prevented many from doing so. In 2002, FareShare teamed up with the Law Institute of Victoria and successfully lobbied the Victorian Government to introduce Australia’s first Good Samaritan law to protect food donors. Similar legislation has since been put in place in every other state and territory.
With generous support from philanthropic foundations, particularly the Jack and Ethel Goldin Foundation, FareShare established our first dedicated kitchen in 2008 in Abbotsford.
This major development enabled us to recruit more food donors and volunteers, and to add a second and then third daily shift, increasing our meal output.
Despite a growing number of regular volunteers cooking nearly 500,000 meals a year, FareShare was still falling well short of meeting charities’ requests for food to support people in need. The obvious solution was to set out to establish a larger premises and a kitchen capable of cooking one million meals a year.
In 2013, with the generous assistance of a number of organisations including the Ian Potter Foundation, FareShare started cooking in Australia’s largest charity kitchen – also in Abbotsford. Located in South Audley Street, the purpose-built kitchen allowed us to scale up production dramatically.
In 2016, FareShare started growing our own vegetables with the launch of our kitchen garden program. We cleared a disused site alongside Victoria Park Railway Station for our first garden, and then established a second on vacant land at Moorabbin Airport. Our third plot, on the Baguley family farm in Clayton South, added significant potential for yield.
In 2017, FareShare acquired a substantial warehouse in Derrimut increasing our capacity to store food tenfold. Located close to food wholesalers, the new facility enables FareShare to accept bulk donations and freeze in large quantities.
In 2018, FareShare began work on a second kitchen in Brisbane to harness ingredients supplied by Foodbank Queensland. The new kitchen is being developed with the capacity to cook five million meals a year.
On October 9, the FareShare ‘super’ kitchen was opened in Brisbane by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk doubling FareShare’s capacity. Boasting 300 litre steam kettles capable of cooking 750 meals at a time.
FareShare celebrates the first anniversary of our Brisbane kitchen by cooking one million meals in the new facility. The bushfire season starts early with FareShare providing meal support to devastated communities.
A year of crisis brought on by devastating bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic, creates unprecedented demand for FareShare meals. Forced to suspend our volunteers through lockdowns, FareShare scales up production with the support of hospitality staff funded by Woolworths, ALH Group and the Victorian Government. Our kitchens cook a combined total of 3.7 million meals.
FareShare responds to the ever-increasing need for meals by undertaking a major redevelopment of our Melbourne kitchen. This will enable our chefs to cook another half million free, nutritious meals a year. That’s a total of around 1.5 million meals a year in our Melbourne kitchen!
Meanwhile, FareShare Brisbane celebrates a number of milestones, such as its 5th birthday and cooking its 6 millionth meal.