Have you heard of FareShare? This organisation rescues surplus food and cooks free, nutritious meals for people doing it tough. The vision is simple – a society where food is not wasted, and no one goes hungry.
In a nutshell, FareShare
- Rescues food that would otherwise be wasted
- Cooks and distributes nutritious meals to people in need
- Inspires and empowers action on food rescue and hunger.
FareShare operates Australia’s largest charity kitchens which are powered by volunteers under the guidance of experienced chefs. Every day FareShare cooks 10,000 nutritious meals in its Melbourne and Brisbane kitchens making a meaningful difference to the lives of Australians struggling to put food on the table.
The idea originated in 2000 when pastry chef Guido Pozzebon was inspired to take action on food waste and hunger. He started by cooking 300 pies every Saturday morning and providing them to the Salvation Army and St Vincent de Paul. Separately in 2000 a fellow Melbournian, Steven Kolt, was also inspired from a recent trip to New York where he witnessed the New York City Harvest organisation, which rescues food for the needy. By late 2001, the two efforts merged and FareShare was born.
Statistics show around four million Australians experience food insecurity each year, while as much as $20 billion worth of food is wasted. FareShare tackles the tragedy head on by rescuing surplus, quality food from supermarkets, wholesalers, farmers and other businesses and cooking it into nutritious meals.
In Melbourne, with the help of over 1,000 regular volunteers, FareShare cooks more than 5,500 free meals a day for charities such as soup vans, homeless shelters, women’s refuges and community food banks. Plus, a Brisbane kitchen has recently opened, which effectively doubles FareShare’s social impact, bringing the daily total of cooked meals to around 10,000.
Wondering where the meals go?
FareShare’s vegetable and protein-packed meals are distributed free by frontline charities such as soup vans, homeless shelters, women’s refuges and community foodbanks. Some charities serve meals directly and hand out savoury pastries and soup. Others pack them in food parcels for vulnerable people to take away.
Perhaps you have seen a St Vincent de Paul Society van around Melbourne? There are currently 5 soup vans that travel the streets of Melbourne, Berwick and Moe. FareShare supplies around 100 litres of soup a week to Vinnie’s Matthew Talbot Soup Van, which operates out of Our Lady’s Parish Hall in Maidstone.
Servicing the areas of Maidstone, Footscray and Williamstown, the van visits regular locations that include boarding houses, housing ministry flats, a women’s refuge, Half Moon Caravan Park, and a stop outside the Whitten oval.
Many of the people who visit the van are not homeless, but struggle in their lives due to alcohol or substance abuse or mental illness. The van’s volunteers provide them with welcome food and company, and perhaps more importantly, acceptance of some of society’s most marginalised people.
An important environmental gain is also achieved with surplus food diverted from landfill. This reduces greenhouse pollution and ensures food produced for humans reaches those who need it most. It also ensures the water, energy and land used to produce food is not wasted.
FareShare also grows its own food on disused patches of land around Melbourne to ensure sufficient vegetables for its meals. The charity now has three kitchen gardens where volunteers grow a range of crops including zucchini, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots, eggplant and broccoli.
Interested in getting involved?
There are many ways to assist FareShare
|Run a fundraiser
|Organise a corporate volunteering shift
|Run a food drive
|Become a regular volunteer
|Book a Schools in the Kitchen shift
Many people elect to help on a volunteer basis. Did you know over 1,000 volunteers help coordinate Melbourne’s FareShare efforts? People volunteer for their own individual reasons and it was interesting to note that for every paid staff member, there are 46 volunteers.
Interestingly, CEO Marcus Godinho stated that the professional knowledge transfer and particular skill sets that volunteers bring to FareShare were one of the widest benefits for FareShare. Often volunteers have retired from esteemed careers and their knowledge bank and network of contacts can lead to dramatic improvements within the operation. Volunteers gather for a common cause, but the benefits are so much more.
Volunteer positions are available in the kitchen (Abbotsford), in kitchen gardens (Abbotsford, Moorabbin and Clayton South), on the road and in the warehouse and also in an office environment – reception, administration and special projects involving graphic designers, fundraisers, web developers or data experts.
There is also a corporate volunteering shift that Paradigm Group employees experienced in 2017. It’s back on our agenda towards the end of 2019.
Obviously FareShare is a charity which relies upon the generosity of philanthropic foundations, businesses and individual donors. If you have any queries, or would like to support FareShare you are welcome to contact Marcus Godinho, CEO via email or 0416 180 802. Alternatively visit https://www.fareshare.net.au/ for more information.
In the 2018 – 2019 financial year, FareShare have
- rescued 1,027,233 kg of surplus food
- Grew 60,339 kg of vegetables
- Cooked 2,010,528 free, nutritious meals for people in need
It’s amazing what we can achieve in this world when we adopt a collaborative approach!