FareShare returns to Abbotsford kitchen after major yearlong redevelopment

This week, FareShare chef Dean switched on the brand-new 300L kettle at the refurbished FareShare kitchen in Abbotsford.

With that, FareShare’s South Audley Street kitchen is back up and running after nearly 12 months of reconstruction.

FareShare chefs and volunteers cooked our first meals there in 2013. 

Eleven years later, this unassuming inner-city industrial building is now equipped with three state-of-the-art commercial temperature-controlled kitchens, an array of three blast chillers and hugely increased cool room and freezer capacity.

This allows FareShare to produce a staggering additional 500,000 meals annually. 

Each of these meals will provide nutrition, comfort and dignity to families and people who are faced with food insecurity. 

‘’Over the past decade the amount of people living with food insecurity has skyrocketed and our kitchens and cool rooms had been operating at absolute capacity,” said FareShare Director of Special Projects Kellie Watson.

“By integrating the building next door, upgrading key pieces of equipment and expanding our packing and chilling capacity we are now so much better placed to address the ever-increasing demand for our meals,’’ she explained.

Chef Dean adds zucchini to a chicken casserole, the first dish to be cooked in the new 300L kettle.
Chef Jas cooks a mammoth batch of pork and vegetable curry in FareShare's two Bratt pans, one of which is brand new.

FareShare Production Manager Crickette DerJeu said the addition of a third commercial kitchen is a game changer.

“It is astonishing how far we have come,” explained Crickette.

“Our chefs will now have additional high volume cooking equipment, giving FareShare expanded capacity across all production lines.”

All in all, the kitchen area has been expanded by thirty five percent.

As part of the upgrade FareShare kitchens are now equipped with larger, powerful equipment designed for top notch hygiene standards and integrated state of the art equipment able to produce meals at a greater scale.

The new equipment includes a massive 300 litre automated kettle, an extra oven and Bratt pan – a large cooking receptacle designed for producing large-scale meals.

To complement the expanded kitchen area, FareShare’s Abbotsford HQ has been redesigned to streamline dishing up and packaging.

Specifically, the capacity to store chilled and frozen food has been increased by three hundred and fifty per cent.

And the newly refurbished space can house more staff and volunteers to help FareShare grow and run smoothly. 

The office has been redesigned with safety in mind, and now includes a lift and ambulant facilities on each floor to make it more accessible for people with a disability.

The warehouse has more than doubled. This extended space will store more produce, accommodating larger quantities of rescued food, as well as keeping the vegetables and herbs grown at FareShare’s kitchen gardens fresh.

Any organic waste will be composted by a newly included in composting machine, using WasteMaster technology. This will reduce the weight of organic food waste created by up to eighty per cent, while retaining the nutrient value of the compost it produces. 

It will make ideal compost for the FareShare’s gardeners to use and help us close the loop on our food production system.

FareShare's Director of Special Projects Kellie Watson gives FareShare team members a tour of the new warehouse.
In FareShare's new briefing room/viewing area, FareShare CEO Marcus Godinho (left) welcomes the first volunteers back into the Abbotsford kitchen.

Importantly the reconfigured layout at FareShare’s Abbotsford offices provides a community friendly viewing area where – anyone interested in what FareShare does – can get involved in what we do.

It is a place where chefs, staff, volunteers and the community can be together and enjoy delicious morning and afternoon tea breaks.

So, today marks a new beginning for FareShare as we start to work from a facility created to foster connection with care; and provide a safe and upgraded home for our Melbourne-based operation.

You are all welcome, and we can’t wait to deglaze our pans, welcome our volunteers back, and load up the forklift to support people in hardship and help provide equity where it is missing.

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