Uniting Ballarat's Meals for Change Program
A café meals program operating across nine Ballarat small businesses, Meals for Change provides opportunities for young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness to enjoy subsidised nutritious meals in a community setting.
Supporting some of our community’s most vulnerable young people and receiving no government funding, Uniting Ballarat’s Meals for Change café meals program has greatly appreciated support provided through the Ballarat Foundation in the past few years. Providing opportunities for young people with experiences of food insecurity, homelessness, mental health issues, social isolation and school disengagement amongst others to enjoy regular nutritious meals in any of the program’s partner cafes, Meals for Change importantly alleviates barriers to participation in wider community life, one meal at a time.
The program supports young people who are marginalised and more often than not, recipients of welfare by building their capacity and confidence for independence and a better life. The benefits of membership are diverse and do not simply relate to improved food security. Importantly membership feeds the soul, self-belief which leads to increased capacity to engage with the service system, education, training and employment. What this points to is the capacity of a social-inclusion program such as Meals for Change to provide both immediate and tangible assistance coupled with a ‘soft entry point’ to other supports that will prevent people from falling through the gaps.
Over the past three years, the incredibly generous support of the Ballarat Foundation has enabled almost 2900 meals to be enjoyed by Meals for Change members. Meals for Change members understand not only the significance of this monetary support but importantly, the message it sends from the community is that they matter which is critical to their moving forward.
Pinarc - Preserving our Produce
Preserving our Produce was the natural next-step for Pinarc, after an earlier grant helped them to establish a Food Security Garden.
The garden, including wicking beds, was built by Pinarc customers, staff, and volunteers. It is planted, tended and harvested by Pinarc customers, who in turn use the food they have grown as part of their Independent Living Skills Cooking Curriculum.
An important part of Food Security is to ensure that nothing goes to waste. With the grant provided by the Ballarat Foundation, Pinarc were able to purchase equipment and teaching tools to preserve the excess seasonal produce for later use.
Customers have made jam, dried fruit, sauces, dried herbs and many preserved vegetables for later use. This has been incredibly rewarding for staff and customers alike, who have been able to not only increase their skills in food preparation, preservation and cooking but also feel a sense of pride and achievement in their work, as they see, literally, the fruits of their labour ‘from paddock to plate’.
More than 85 people with disability from the Ballarat region are participating in the program.
Pinarc Quality Manager