Delivering food and hope

For 100 years, Rotary in Australia has been on hand to assist those in need. And in recent times, the Rotary Club of Sandy Bay, Tas, has taken a step up, partnering with an emergency food relief charity for a Centenary project benefiting vulnerable Tasmanians.

Each week, Loaves and Fishes, with very few staff, delivers food and hope to vulnerable Tasmanians through more than 200 community agencies, service clubs, churches, schools, neighbourhood centres and charities. The Rotary Club of Sandy Bay saw the need for more resources and has thrown its full support into the delivery and distribution of surplus food by providing as many volunteers as possible to ensure food gets to where it’s most needed.

Many club members participate in a roster manning the Loaves and Fishes van and working with staff to collect surplus food from supermarkets and food processors. They also spend time in the warehouse helping with the quick turnaround of food, processing it ready for delivery. Other members collect food from the local Coles Supermarket two days a week and distribute it to community groups.

The club initiated a successful Food Rescue Drive – declaring a war on waste – and utilised local regional papers to contact farmers, processors and orchardists to source more food.

“We have to stop good food going to waste,” said Charles Cook, of the Rotary Club of Sandy Bay. “It is here, we just have to find it. We can make a difference to people’s lives.”

Members also shared the strawberry bounty by picking strawberries at a local strawberry farm. Thanks to Rotary and Sorell Fruit Farm, many families doing it tough enjoyed a fresh strawberry dessert.

By the end of 2020, Loaves and Fishes Tasmania had distributed 800,000kg of fresh produce; 8000 made-to-order food hampers, and made 200,000 ready-to-eat meals. The pandemic saw demand for food increase by around 70 per cent. They delivered thousands of kilograms of food to about 50 breakfast clubs operating state-wide.

All the food is supplied free.

The Rotary Club of Sandy Bay has also been championing the desperate need for a southern kitchen to better serve struggling Tasmanians in and around Hobart. In addition, they have submitted a global grant application seeking funding to transform the kitchen in an old pub into a state-of-the-art commercial kitchen providing food and training opportunities for southern residents.

One of the main focuses is to help teens and young adults break the cycle of unemployment or poverty through mentoring, social engagement, and training pathways.

To fundraise for new kitchen equipment, club president Wendy Rowe has implemented a variation of My Kitchen Rules – Rotary Kitchen Rules – at which club members provide a home-based meal of either breakfast, lunch or dinner, paid for by member or non-member attendees. The proceeds go to the Loaves and Fishes project.

The initial target of $10,000 has been reached in large part thanks to the Rotary Kitchen Rules fundraising efforts. That’s $100 for every year of 100 years of Rotary service!

For a century, Rotary has been getting the job done, serving those in need. This Centenary project makes service count in a targeted, profound, and impacting way.

The club anticipates multiple rewards through supporting this worthwhile social enterprise, including reducing food waste and providing training opportunities for young people. The project is a visible way for Rotary to promote its good work and attract potential new members. But, most importantly, it’s partnering with purpose – delivering food and hope for people who need it most.