Care in good taste

From Left, Anita Burman, Rowan Little, Jason Wood, Diana Little, and Paula Arnold at the Upwey Baptist Church where every Monday the Foothills Community Care group serves meals to over 100 people using a 40-year-old kitchen.

By Derek Schlennstedt

The Foothills Community Care group is on the verge of constructing a new and much-needed kitchen to help support vulnerable families and individuals in and around the Dandenong Ranges.
Though they still need some help to get there.
The small community-based organisation prepares over 9000 meals every year from its 40-year-old kitchen at the Upwey Baptist Community Church.
Every Monday night the group caters for around 100 people, with minimal facilities, even washing all the dishes by hand in one sink.
Now the group is asking for the support of the community to help them progress and further grow the capacity of people they can help.
“We have 100 people around our tables every week, sharing the meals we provide for free,” Foothills CEO Stephen Barrington said.
“Since we’ve started in Upwey, we’ve been full to bursting every week … the need is there in the community and we need to grow to meet it.”
Jason Wood, Liberal Member for La Trobe is advocating for funding for the group under the Stronger Communities Grant and felt confident that the group would receive the funding.
“I’m very confident of securing the funding because this is just such a great project … this is one of the ones where we have an independent committee and to me this ticks every box,” Mr Wood said.
So far the Foothills group has pulled together funds to help develop the kitchen and have created plans for the construction, but they are still short of funding, and even with the grant will still need help from the community.
The group has also partnered with the Box Hill Institute to help promote hospitality jobs in the region by offering training opportunities for younger students.
Jason Wood said that with so many cafes in the Dandenong Ranges, this would be an ideal and great intiative.
“This is huge … from my perspective the work they do here with providing meals is unbelievable and fantastic for the local community but also, just as importantly if they can train people up, who may be unemployed, we have all these cafes, and they are always screaming for staff and the training here will be absolutely vital.
But the Foothills group, which consists of over 200 volunteers, said they’ll first need a new kitchen to be able to cater for the students.
“Our partnership with Box Hill Institute will allow us to really grow to meet the needs in the community but we’re being held back by a very well-used, well-loved but very old kitchen that’s in need of an upgrade,” Mr Barrington said.
Donations can be made via direct deposit to BSB number: 633 000 and account number: 116 883 117.
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