Meals for the Mob

When Jason Mollenhauer joined FareShare as First Nations Officer on International Indigenous Day last year he brought a commitment to improve the lives of First Nations peoples. 

With a passion for community-led services and a focus on establishing genuine connections, he has driven an innovative program known as Meals for the Mob.

As the name suggests, the meals are designed to suit the taste preferences and nutrition needs of the First Nations communities they serve. Equally importantly, they were cooked by First Nations groups hand in hand with FareShare’s head chef James Fien in our Brisbane kitchen.  

Meals for the Mob recognises the disproportionately high rates of food insecurity in regional, remote and discrete communities, where access to affordable fresh food is low and diet-related health issues are high.

The successful pilot consulted with all the communities involved to create a new line of healthy, delicious meals.

Master recipes were developed by the University of Queensland overseen by Prof Helen Truby, Chair in Human Nutrition, to maximise nutrition, while maintaining low levels of salt, saturated fat and sugar to avoid exacerbating pre-existing conditions such as hypertension, cardio-vascular disease and diabetes. Each recipe was also formulated to provide a source of iron, with high levels of Vitamin C to benefit its absorption and address iron deficiencies.  

Kruby from Murri Watch (left) and Ricki from Gallang Place (right) in action at FareShare's Brisbane kitchen.
FareShare's Jason Mollenhauer and Bernard 'Boy' Hopkins from CRAICCHS (Cherbourg Regional Aboriginal & Islander Community Controlled Health Services).
Chicken and veg casserole with rice and broccoli - meals are cooked to meet the needs and dietary requirements of First Nations communities.
FareShare's Jason and mob from Murri Watch - packing meals at our Brisbane kitchen.
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‘The response to the meals was overwhelming,’ says Jason, who personally delivers them to Cherbourg, three hours’ drive NW of Brisbane, and to Lismore, Ballina and Casino in Northern NSW.

‘The meals were endorsed by the community groups involved and all services that accessed our meals want the program to keep going.

‘A lot of these communities don’t get any roast meat. You can pay up to $16 for a chook. The price for vegetables can be unobtainable – the more regional and remote you go, it’s ridiculous. I’ve seen broccoli on sale for $23 a kilo. No wonder people are not eating greens!’

FareShare’s roast chicken and vegetables proved a universal hit with some of the community members saying they hadn’t enjoyed a roast in years.

Following the successful pilot, FareShare is seeking funding to continue the program and is committed to ensuring it remains empowering, flexible and community-driven. Importantly, FareShare continues to provide nutritious meals to the First Nations communities that participated in the pilot.

FareShare is finalising our Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) because we are committed to helping improve food insecurity for First Nations peoples living in remote, very remote, regional, outer regional, discrete communities and urban parts of Australia. We believe that formalising a RAP will support us to build our knowledge of, and respect for, First Nations history and culture and help us to develop that knowledge in both our staff and also our wider community of volunteers, stakeholders, and donors.

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