We make every meal as nutritious as possible because we know it may be the only meal of the day for the person who receives it. Both mental and physical health are compromised when people face food insecurity and don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
Cooking with rescued, donated and our homegrown food means that our chefs start the day with a mystery box of ingredients. Their goal is to transform this food into healthy, delicious and well-presented meals that feed dignity and wellbeing to people experiencing hardship.
We understand that tastes and preferences vary so we cook a wide variety of both meat-based and vegetarian dishes. We add legumes and pulses – good sources of protein – to our vegetarian meals and ensure a high vegetarian content in our meat dishes.
Eating a well balanced, nutritious diet provides us with the nutrients (proteins, minerals and vitamins) we need to stay healthy. It reduces the risk of disease and chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease and stroke, helps maintain a healthy body weight, protects against infection, and plays a major role in your overall health and wellbeing at all stages of our life.
But accessing nutritious food is becoming more and more difficult as the cost of living rises. As the FoodBank Hunger Report and other literature will tell you, proteins and fresh fruit and vegetables are often the first things people forgo when money gets tight.
This is the sad truth: people facing hardship have a much tougher time accessing quality, nutritious food.
Here at FareShare, we place a strong emphasis on nutrition. We are proud that our meals are packed with nutrition, be it from the fresh veggies harvested by our kitchen gardens or donated proteins from our generous food donors.
It’s easy to say our meals are nutritious, but ‘nutrition’ is such a broad term. So how exactly are we working to ensure that every meal we cook is packed with nutritional value that can deliver maximum health benefits?
The answer: by applying science in collaboration with the University of Queensland (UQ)’s Nutrition and Dietetics department.
“We want to improve our literacy in nutrition and ensure our chefs and kitchen staff cook the best possible meals with the ingredients available,” says FareShare’s Kellie Watson. “The relationship with UQ has given us access to nutrition and dietetics advice to help us maximise the impact of our meals.”
According to Helen Truby, Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics at UQ, one of the gaps that FareShare can fill is adding vegetables, “which provide essential micro-nutrients and phytochemicals and also dietary fibre, which is very important for gut health.”
This can be particularly true in regional and remote areas, such as First Nations communities where FareShare, Prof. Truby and her UQ students have worked closely with communities to develop culturally-appropriate, master recipes that pack a big nutritional punch. You can read more about this on our Reconciliation page.
The links between poor diet and mental health are also becoming more understood and Prof Truby says this is an important area of new research. Read more about our collaboration with the University of Queensland here.
One of our partner charities is Sale and District Specialist School in Gippsland. Here, the students (many with special needs) can request a FareShare meal whenever they like. Hampers with nutritious FareShare meals are also delivered directly to families in need of support.
According to their student wellbeing support officer, Rebecca Bagshaw, there is a noticeable difference when students are fed a nutritious FareShare meal.
“When our students have food in their stomachs, we see that they are happier, concentration spans improve for learning, social interaction is positive, and they have more energy throughout the day.”
Some of the parents “have special needs themselves and no knowledge of healthy food,” Rebecca says. “It perpetuates the cycle. You can’t live on two-minute noodles, day in day out.
“FareShare means at least five days a week I can give them something to fill their bellies.”
Sale and District Specialist School is just one of the hundreds of charity partners we give our free, nutritious meals to. Read about other charities our meals go to here.