On the last Thursday of the month, after the hustle and bustle of lunch service at The Bistro and Bakehouse Cafe has died down, Canterbury chefs are already hard at work chopping, peeling, mashing, and plating for their next round of customers – except the meals are going to groups of homeless people in Woolloomooloo and Martin Place.
It was a simple conversation in 2013 that started this vehicle of change when Maronites on Mission (MoM) approached Canterbury to find support to purchase a food van. Six years, two vans, 8,000 hot meals and countless staff volunteer hours later, Canterbury has donated more than $215,000 in cash and in-kind support to help people doing it tough and/or living on the streets.
In NSW, 28,190 people can be classified as homeless and homelessness can be caused by poverty, unemployment, shortage of affordable housing, domestic and family violence, family breakdown, mental illness, sexual assault, addiction, financial difficulty and social isolation.
The meals prepared are the same restaurant standard meals served at Canterbury and change depending on the season. In colder months traditional hearty dishes are prepared like bangers and mash with a side of steamed vegetables or lamb shanks in tomato sugo. At other times it might be a chicken or beef stir-fry or a warm pasta cooked in a cream sauce.
The hot meals, sandwiches, fruits and drinks are then collected and packed by Canterbury staff volunteers into MoM’s large food van to be delivered to the lines of hungry homeless people waiting in the city at the two drop off sites.
It doesn’t take long for volunteers to distribute the food – 45 minutes at most per site – however for the hungry customers, the effects are felt long through the night.
To date, the relationship with MoM has been the Club’s longest and most successful community partnership and in 2017 it was officially recognised with an award at ClubsNSW’s Clubs & Community Award night.
“Having a healthy and nutritious meal is vitally important and even more so for those who are down on their luck and may not know when their next meal is coming. We are proud to support an initiative like this and Canterbury looks forward to continuing our community partnership with MoM in 2020,” said George Coorey, Chairman of Canterbury League Club.