FareShare to help feed struggling workers 

With Melbourne in the thick of its second lockdown, food charity FareShare has reported a further increase in unemployed hospitality workers seeking food relief.

As tighter restrictions continue, the people who typically bolster Melbourne’s vibrant hospitality scene, such as international students and visa workers, are the ones who have lost work and are unable to access financial assistance.

FareShare estimates it has provided more than 200,000 cooked meals for international students and visa workers in Melbourne during the pandemic, with a further spike in demand since the second lockdown.

Thousands of FareShare meals are feeding international students from Monash, Melbourne and CQ Universities each week, while community groups have also sprung up to support struggling students.

Angela Valansi, of the newly formed Kindness Community Group, has been handing out FareShare meals from a Fitzroy Church. She said it was “heartbreaking” to see students lose their jobs for a second time. “We have so many people already in our list and I’m so worried for the weeks ahead”, said Angela.

To help ease this demand, delivery app, DoorDash, has partnered with FareShare to bring even more meals to the thousands of people falling on hard times.

Until August 20, DoorDash will provide a free meal to someone in need for every food order made via the app or online (no minimum spend).

FareShare has nearly doubled the production of meals since the start of the outbreak cooking around 9,000 free meals a day from its Abbotsford kitchen. To meet an upswell in demand from communities impacted, FareShare has also employed more than 100 struggling chefs, many of them visa holders.

FareShare CEO, Marcus Godinho, said, “So many Melburnians are doing it tough right now and our city’s normally lively hospitality industry is in crisis with thousands of workers laid off. Partnering with DoorDash allows us to reach even more vulnerable people, including international students and visa workers, who are relying on FareShare’s free, nutritious meals to get by and stay healthy.

“For every DoorDash order made in Melbourne, we can cook and share a nutritious meal with someone struggling to put food on the table. With people accessing food delivery more while they’re staying home, this is a simple way for locals to show their support.”

Hotel chef Karl Hoffrichter, one of FareShare’s newest team members, takes a FareShare meal pack home to support two of his fellow hospitality workers – one an international student and the other a visa holder who have lost work and have no access to government funding.

“All their money goes on rent and bills,” he said. “I’m helping them get through and it makes a real difference”.

Hoffrichter said the whole hospitality industry has suffered; “It doesn’t just affect the kitchen – it’s the bartenders and waiting staff as well.

Expertise key with new kitchen facility for the needy

Project delivery specialist Wiley doesn’t only share its knowledge when it comes to building functional, state-of-the-art food processing factories, it also uses its expertise to help with more altruistic endeavours. Its project with FareShare is an example of how Wiley helps those that are helping others in need.

FareShare is a not-for-profit organisation that “rescues food that would otherwise go to waste and cooks it into free nutritious meals for people in need. Around four million Australians experience food insecurity each year while as much as $20 billion worth of food is wasted”.

Foodbank also works with the Australian food and grocery industry including farmers, wholesalers, manufacturers and retailers. Donations include stock items that are out of specification, close to their expiry date, or are in excess.

In late 2016, FareShare was approached by Foodbank Australia to establish a high-volume kitchen facility in Brisbane so that surplus meat and vegetables in the state could be saved from landfill, cooked, frozen and redirected to those in need. With research showing that over 400,000 Queenslanders experienced food insecurity last year, 50 per cent of them children, it was deemed imperative that a kitchen was established as soon as practical.

FareShare bought a brownfield site in Queensland to build the new kitchen facility within an existing warehouse. The new building footprint was to be in the order of 900 m² and the existing offices and warehouse space was retained. It included two kitchens linked by shared services, cool room and freezers, reception, locker room, function room, tea room, male/female/accessible toilets, laundry and basic storage. The balance of the area was open space. As funds were tight, construction was to be basic, yet robust. It was envisaged that most of the building would comprise insulated cool-room panelling.

“Wiley met FareShare at an industry conference and provided high level advice to us on the selection of the premises, design and food systems advice,” said Kellie Watson, FareShare’s Queensland director. “We were also able to use Wiley’s experience and knowledge to assist us with the delivery of this project. I used their Brisbane office as my office for the first few months too.

The facility consists of two ovens, two 300-litre kettles and three blast chillers. When in use, the kitchen can make one million meals per year. With the addition of evening and weekend shifts, the kitchen would be able to produce two million meals.

With the ability to serve up to that many meals annually, are there any plans for FareShare to expand the facilities capabilities?

“It depends on the need in the community,” said Watson. “We’d like to say ‘no’ but current trends indicate that the need for food relief is increasing each year. The building was designed to be able to increase production if the need in Queensland increases and the raw ingredients are available.

“We have built in [the] capacity for equipment upgrades, installed a grease trap of a size that can grow with us, and we have done preliminary work so that we can easily increase the size of the freezers. For example, we have prepped the floor and built a second multi-purpose area that is currently operating as a dry store. To bring it online as a freezer, we just need to add the plant equipment. With the floor area that we have, we can accommodate twice as many volunteers as we currently have.”

Building at a brownfield site had its own challenges, but nothing that got in the way of what Wiley needed to do to help finish the job.

“The biggest challenge for Wiley and FareShare was building within an existing structure on the brownfield site and ensuring the building structure had sufficient strength to support the new infrastructure,” said Wiley project engineer Lauren Elliss. “Another challenge was that the site was located close to the Brisbane river, which meant we had tidal water challenges to solve.”

The build took from January to October 2018 but Wiley was involved with FareShare for some time before that, helping with site selection and feasibility, as well as helping to source suppliers and subcontractors. It was important that those helping with the build were willing to work at cost or discounted rates to help FareShare achieve its budget and time constraints.

And what were some of the learnings from the build? “It was more our ability to work collaboratively with our subcontractors and extended team that made this manageable,” said Elliss. “Transparency is the key. Everyone was contributing to the cause to get FareShare up and running to feed Queensland’s hungry.”

Elliss said the building could not have been completed under budget and on time without the help of ASKIN, Cool Times Industries, D&F Plumbing, PowerMe, REFPRO and WMA.

Australia’s largest charity kitchen gets cooking in Queensland

FareShare fired up the ovens of a kitchen the size of a basketball court in Queensland on October 9.

The charity will cook up nutritious surplus food for free to help people needing a meal.

The fight against hunger and food waste has been created in collaboration with Foodbank –  Australia’s largest food relief organisation.

FareShare Queensland director Kellie Watson said FareShare aims to cook more than one million free, nutritious meals in its first year of operation, in Morningside, and to scale up to five million meals a year.

READ: FareShare and Wiley partner to feed Brisbane’s hungry

“Our custom-built kitchen will be powered by volunteers with more than 400 Brisbanites already registered to lend a hand,” said Watson.

The kitchen was built at cost by Wiley.

It includes Stommpy bollards and safety protection equipment, installed by Wiley employees.

Wiley managing director Tom Wiley said giving back to the community is part of the company’s core values.

The $5 million kitchen, equipped with high volume cooking appliances including 300 litre
electric saucepans, will initially harness 500 tonnes of surplus meat and vegetables from

Experienced chefs will supervise volunteers to cook a daily mystery box of
ingredients into tasty, ready-to-eat meals such as casseroles, curries and stir fries.

All FareShare meals are designed to be easily reheated with no need for full cooking
facilities, making them ideal for highly vulnerable people struggling to put food on the table.

Foodbank will access surplus meat and vegetables to supply the kitchen and distribute the
cooked meals to Queenslanders in need through its existing network of 280 registered

Foodbank Queensland CEO Michael Rose said last year alone, Foodbank received more than five million kg of fresh fruit and vegetables.

“The top five farm donors from Bundaberg donated a staggering 1.5m kgs and
stand ready to donate even more once the kitchen comes on line,” he said.

“The FareShare kitchen will provide an opportunity for Foodbank to rescue even more food, especially perishables and to reduce waste for donors, by converting surplus food into ready-made meals, rather than sending it to landfill,” said Rose.


FareShare and Wiley partner to feed Brisbane’s hungry

Food charity FareShare is in the process of building Australia’s largest charity kitchen in Brisbane with the help of Wiley.

The facility is being designed and built by Wiley at cost with the capacity to cook five million meals a year.

In October 2018, Fareshare will open the state of the art, production kitchen in Morningside, Brisbane, with the aim to cook 1.25 million meals in the first year of operation.

FareShare rescues food that would otherwise go to waste and cooks it into free, nutritious meals for people in crisis. Its vision is to have a society where food is not wasted and no one goes hungry.

READ: Wiley awarded Bundaberg sugar terminal roofs upgrade project

Wiley managing director, Tom Wiley, said the company loved working with the FareShare team as their mission and vision aligned so closely to Wiley’s values.

“FareShare partner with Food Bank who we also support, so it made sense to do what we could to help FareShare get on their feet and feeding our community as soon and they could. I’m looking forward to getting my hands dirty in the kitchen come October,” said Wiley.

FareShare is duplicating its unique capability to cook rescued food at scale from Melbourne to Queensland where surplus food is available and community need is acute.

Wiley project manager, Lauren Ellis, said the company had been involved right from the start, assisting with site selection and sourcing suppliers who would best work with the charity.

“Many of our suppliers have also chipped in offering their services at a greatly discounted rate and we are very grateful for their support,” she said.

FareShare’s Queensland general manager Kellie Watson said it was great partnering with a company like Wiley, which had so much experience in the food sector.

“As well as providing their services at cost, Wiley has also brought trades on board with many contributing at cost or with great discounts. As a charity, it’s been critical to keep costs down so this has been a huge help,” she said.

“I’ve really enjoyed Wiley’s flexible and responsive approach,” said Kellie.

The kitchen will be powered by local volunteers and supplied with quality ingredients by Foodbank Queensland. who will also distribute the meals through its existing network of charities.

FareShare is now welcoming registrations from would-be volunteers.