Connecting First Nations communities in Victoria with meals

Fareshare’s curried sausages are a winner at Oonah, which provides culturally-appropriate services for First Nations peoples in Melbourne’s inner and outer East.

Oonah’s Tucker Bag program is open to anyone in need – and sadly that need has grown sharply with the cost-of-living crisis. 

“We’re seeing higher need among families at the moment,” says Oonah’s Natasha Zangmeister. “Even with both parents working, it’s not enough.

“The meals are good for Elders. A lot of them are single but still at home. There’s no prep work and the meals are very nutritious.”

Natasha says working men and women also appreciate a meal on the go. “Some are laborers who can’t afford the traditional pie for lunch anymore, so they heat up a FareShare meal at work.”

Oonah's Tucker Bag sign points the way for their community members.
FareShare's First Nations Officer Jason Mollenhauer with Luke and Oonah's Natasha Zangmeister.

Luke, one of the Tucker Bag’s community clients, loves the single-serves and ability to choose something for himself and his children. “The meals are delicious,” he says.

With a Community facing high levels of anemia, diabetes and cancer, nutrition is key.

“We have a holistic care approach,” says Natasha. “Healthy eating is very important and we encourage this through our playgroup and youth club programs.

“Anemia is the number one health issue in our Community in Victoria. We need more fibre, iron and greens. 

“We get lots of feedback about the FareShare meals – curried sausages are a big favourite with our Community but they are very open to giving everything a go. The meals are expanding their taste buds and letting people try new cuisines.”

Given this positive feedback, it was no surprise that FareShare’s First Nations Officer Jason Mollenhauer received a warm welcome when he visited Oonah in Healesville. 

“It was great to meet the team at Oonah and see the fantastic work they’re doing,” Jason said. “We look forward to deepening our relationship through Meals for the Mob and hope to welcome Oonah into the Melbourne kitchen next year.” 

Oonah is excited at the prospect of FareShare’s Meals for the Mob program coming to Victoria. 

As well as the health benefits of meals developed in consultation with dieticians and Indigenous health services, Meals for the Mob are specially packaged to appeal to First Nations Peoples.

Oonah's Natasha Zangmeister and Kat Hamer with FareShare meals.

“Some of our people have become disconnected from Community. The chance to reconnect through food would be amazing.”

Early next year, Oonah will open a second site at Kilsyth to boost its wide-ranging services which include a GP clinic, Paediatrician, NDIS access and support, Elder Care, Podiatry, Optometry, Audiology, Social Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health services.

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