FareShare - Rescuing food and fighting hunger
In a small kitchen in Abbotsford volunteers are cutting up pumpkin, preparing pastry and cooking meat.
Most of them don't have any cooking experience, but they'll work together to prepare 2000 meals by the end of the day.
Tomorrow another group of volunteers will do the same and the next day another still, until one million meals have been prepared, cooked and eaten by the end of this year.
They'll use up 500 tons of perfectly good food that would have otherwise been thrown into landfill and they'll feed the thousands of Victorians who go hungry everyday.
It's hard to believe, but according to a 2007 research study by Community Indicators Victoria (new window), 6% of Victorians surveyed had experienced at least one instance when they had run out of food and were unable to afford to buy more. That's around 313,000 people according to the latest population statistics for Victoria.
Not all of them are homeless either. Some of them simply don't have enough money left over at the end of the week to buy the ingredients they need to prepare meals for themselves or their family.
So the volunteers in the small kitchen in Abbotsford prepare it for them, working together as part of a community organisation called FareShare (new window).
What is FareShare?
FareShare was started in 2000 to rescue food and fight hunger in Melbourne.
Every day large companies, businesses or supermarkets are left with tons of edible fruit, vegetables, grains and meat they can't use or don't want to use. Instead of throwing this food out, they donate it to Fareshare, who transform it into thousands of meals that they then give away to charities.
FareShare chief executive officer Marcus Godinho says the organisation works around the motto "waste not, want not".
"There is nothing wrong with the food these companies throw out. It might comes from bakeries that didn't sell all the fresh bread they made, or businesses who have left over fruit and vegetables at the end of the day," Mr Godinho says.
"We at FareShare didn't want to see all this perfectly good food end up in landfill with all the other rubbish, especially when there are so many people going hungry, so we started collecting it," he says. "Now more than 100 businesses donate food to us and our goal this year is to turn it into one million delicious and nutritious meals."
So how does it all work?
Once the food has been collected, FareShare sets about turning it into three meals a day with the help of more than 3000 volunteers each year.
Chef manager Kellie Watson says that deciding what they cook each day is a bit like opening the mystery box on Masterchef.
"You have to think on your feet. Each morning we get a surplus of food we have to work with. Firstly we try to make the most nutritious meals possible, so we try to get as much protein and fibre into it as possible. We also try to make it as home-cooked as possible," she says.
"The main things we do are portable packaged pastries like quiches and pies and sausage rolls. We do lots of wet food like casseroles and pastas as well."
From the FareShare kitchen, the meals are delivered to various charities all over Melbourne.
The organisation also prepares boxes of fresh fruit and vegetables that charities like the Salvation Army then hand out to families to use in their own homes.
"There's an incredible sense of satisfaction in the eyes of our volunteers at the end of every day," says Ms Watson. "I don't know if it's because they know they're making sure someone doesn't go hungry, or if it's just the fact that people are working together for the same cause and that's a very powerful thing."
How can I get involved in FareShare?
Whether you're a dab hand in the kitchen or not, FareShare is always looking for volunteers who are 18 years old and over to help out.
There's no previous cooking skills required. All you have to do is wash your hands, throw on an apron and start preparing meals to feed the hungry and homeless.
But if the kitchen's too hot for you, there's heaps of other ways to do your bit for FareShare. The organisation has plenty of administration jobs just waiting for volunteers with a little bit of free time.
They also take donations, and you don't have to empty your savings account to make a difference. As little as $10 can provide someone with 25 nutritious meals.
There's one final thing FareShare chief executive officer Marcus Godinho says we can all do to help, and that's stop food wastage in our own homes.
"When you go shopping try not to buy more than what you're going to use. Don't go out to dinner when you have food that's going bad at home, and use things before they expire," he says.
"Also think about what you buy. I'm not a vegetarian, but I don't eat a lot of meat because I know how much water goes into feeding cattle. It's not that hard."
So if you want to rescue food and fight hunger in Melbourne, check out www.fareshare.org.au (new window) and get cooking!
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Articles Written by Elisa
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