Fare Share – Rescuing Food and Helping the Hungry
Monday, 19th December 2011 at 10:46 am
Friday morning and a team of corporate lawyers are in a commercial kitchen in the backstreets of Abbotsford, Melbourne, stirring enormous pots of vegetables.
They are part of a morning shift – up to 200 volunteers in 15 shifts a week that assist in Fare Share’s operation.
The concept behind Fare Share is simple. Food is donated by major supermarkets, wholesalers or manufacturers. It is then turned into delicious and nutritious meals by Fare Share workers in their commercial kitchen, vacuum sealed, frozen and then distributed to agencies across Melbourne who send it out to people in need.
The aims of Fareshare are two-fold – feeding the hungry, and alleviating food waste. CEO Marcus Godinho terms it “rescuing” food. It might be eggs that are “double-yokes” or unusual sizes, cream that is close to its use-by date or pellets of chicken.
A gift of a pellet of ducks was turned into duck friend rice, while in the kitchen on the day of Pro Bono Australia’s visit, production manager Kellie Watson was stirring a giant pot of vegetable korma.
|Above: FareShare CEO Marcus Godinho|
From the industrial ovens there is the delicious waft of cooking pastry. Its vegetable quiches, which Godinho explains is the main staple of food produced at Fare Share.
“Pastry food can be eaten without cutlery, it can be eaten cold and it transports well,” he said.
Fare Share also makes plenty of “wet food” – stews, pastas, ragouts and curries.
The emphasis is on tasty, nutritional and fresh food.
Beneficiaries include women and children at refuges and people with mental health issues who may not be well enough to plan, shop and cook a meal for themselves.
But the typical person that eats a Fare Share meal is not the usual stereotype of someone who is homeless, but is instead someone struggling with the rising cost of living.
“There is a growing number of people with a roof over their head but not enough money to provide three, nutritional meals a day for themselves and their family,” said Godinho.
They may be people who have lost an income, or who are struggling with bills and a rent hike.
“People are skipping meals, and sending their kids to school without breakfast or money for the tuckshop,” said Godinho.
Processed food is cheap – but not nutritious and “knowledge of preparing food is diminishing.”
Hunger is a “creeping problem” in Australia, said Godinho, and demand for Fare Share’s food is on the rise.
The list of people wanting to volunteer at Fare Share is also rising – with more than 200 people on the waiting list.
Fare Share is popular with corporate groups – hence the corporate lawyers stirring the curries on the day of my visit.
Fare Share is currently in fundraising mode. They are hoping to move to a larger premises with two kitchens next year – one to be used as part of a schools program – and the fundraising target is $2million.
Godinho is confident they will raise the money. A former corporate affairs manager for Mobil Oil and the National Australia Bank he is skilled at negotiating with corporations for not only the use of their workers as volunteers but funding and donations.
“(My background) is helpful having a sense of what corporations are looking for when they are looking to engage in the Not for Profit sector,” he said.
Beyond rescuing and distributing food, Godinho has set up a website that allows you to see where food is being distributed in your area, so if you are going hungry you can type in your postcode to see where you can collect a meal from.
With 700,000 tonnes of food in Victoria alone going in the tip each year and 370,000 Victorians going hungry – Fare Share has officiated the perfect marriage between waste and need.