Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Spare Meals - what a good idea

from w
There are several ways of helping to feed neighbours in the Geelong community and here is one I hadn't heard of before.  Spare Meals.  The story is in the Geelong Advertiser.


Jodie  Whittaker:  Generosity  feeds  a  community  need

·         SEPTEMBER 22, 2015 10:00AM
Spare Meals Geelong founder Tina Taylor.
LONG ago, my husband and I scrimped and saved for our house deposit.
Despite enormous financial restrictions, we were immensely proud to establish a home we’d one day own. Eating two-minute noodles or baked beans was a way of life.
We were warmly welcomed into our new area. As time passed, our cosmopolitan neighbourhood regularly celebrated special events and commiserated during hard times. The strong community network was forged over shared tasty, exotic foods, prepared with love. Our financial struggles made these feasts even more special.
Across the road from us lived the most beautiful elderly Italian couple, Antonio and Concetta, whose property erupted with a vast array of delicious fruits and vegetables. They helped us enormously by contributing some of their bounty. That generosity enabled the creation of tasty, low-cost, nourishing foods, especially valued during the leaner years.
Our community still bands together with food in support for one another. It’s not uncommon to see a neighbour walking around the street with a pot of soup, a lasagne or curry.
When a new child arrives, if it’s suspected someone might be having a tough time, as community members are unwell or should someone seem over stretched or unable to prepare meals for themselves, we still share our food and nourish the neighbourhood.
The internet has changed our notion of community. Having online access means the number of locals in our region that we can interact with is dramatically higher.
Thanks to a heart-warming, innovative idea, neighbourhood food sharing practices occur on a much, much larger scale. Spare Meals Geelong is a Facebook page encouraging community food sharing.
Just over a year ago, the group’s founder, Tina Taylor, noticed a huge range of “free stuff” online pages, where people with useful but unwanted items could give them away. She realised the same concept could be used for excess food.
All too often clearing out the pantry, over ordering, making a meal fussy eaters refuse to touch or having an overly productive veggie garden, means good food ends up in the bin.
Rather than having casserole five days in a row, Spare Meals Geelong shares it with any one in need.
Spare Meals Geelong rehomes good unwanted ingredients and cooked meals so nourishing food isn’t wasted. The group of volunteers operate the page, which has almost 3600 members.
Spare Meals Geelong eases the burden on other regional food support providers by giving local people doing it tough free emergency food support.
Every week, volunteers create, source and share up to 500 meals through registered community kitchens and store food across distribution sites. There’s presently more than enough food to assist everyone who needs it.
One of the Spare Meals Geelong Facebook site administrators, Kristy Cooper explained it works.
“We just look at it is as good old Aussie mateship. For anyone who could do with some assistance putting food onto their table. There’s no judgment and no need to explain your situation. You don’t need to provide concession entitlements, ID or meet any criteria,” she said.
To get help, simply join the Spare Meals Geelong Facebook site and inbox an administrator. They’ll help arrange a time for you to collect your meals from one of the collection points dotted across Geelong. The service is a private, discreet and respectful way to receive assistance without judgment or embarrassment.
Ms Cooper said that all Spare Meals Geelong asks for in return is that once the person’s situation improves they pay the favour forward and share some food with others in need.
“That might be with providing a small supermarket gift card, sharing the page or remembering us with any excess from a future freezer clear out.”
The biggest challenge Spare Meals Geelong faces is a shortage of containers to store and deliver meals.
“To continue feeding our people in need, the group would really appreciate any freezer and microwave safe containers. Clear out your plastics cupboard and we’ll happily accept your excess containers,” Ms Cooper said.
Rectangular take-away style containers are ideal, but any suitable containers, or financial contributions towards their purchase, would be greatly appreciated.
For additional information or to contribute to Spare Meals Geelong’s outstanding work, please join their Facebook site.

- Jodie Whittaker is a freelance writer. She is an alumna of Deakin University and interned with the Geelong Advertiser. Follow her on Twitter @Whittaker_Jodie


Post a Comment

<< Home