Increase in food for charity

VOLUNTEERING: Spare Ya Change 4 Kids volunteers Janine Lennon, Louise and Ian Weller and Robyn Laurenson at work in the Italian Club kitchen. Picture: KATE HILL.

SPARE Ya Change 4 Kids has tripled its service over the last few months with the help of a few charities and organisations.

A total of 25 schools across the Limestone Coast have now signed up for the service, an increase from six schools at the beginning of the year.

Volunteers and board members often meet in the kitchen at the Mount Gambier Italo Australian Club to cook meals for those in need.

Meeting on a Tuesday, volunteers often cook and freeze meals for schools and with some cooking sessions producing about 400 meals.

The charity relies on donations of produce and financial support to pay for protein and pasta meal elements.

Most importantly it relies on the donation of time from long-time volunteers and chefs.

Board member and volunteer Lesley Okholm said the charity had worked hard to forge relationships with fellow charities and organisations.

“With the help of Foodbank, we’ve established hubs in Naracoorte and Millicent and made the service more accessible, so we’ve jumped from 300 meals a fortnight to around 900 a fortnight,” Ms Okholm said.

“Foodbank provides some of our produce and delivers to outlying areas and in return, we give them 100 meals each fortnight.”

Ms Okholm said there were frequently misconceptions around what determined an area of need for the service.

“It’s not only the schools you think have hungry kids that have hungry kids,” she said.

“We are determined that all kids in the Limestone Coast should get a solid, balanced meal once a day.”

Mount Gambier Education director Ruth Schubert said the charity organisation had become well established in the region.

“In 2023, there has been a dramatic increase in need, with a jump from six regular schools to 25 schools across the region participating,” Ms Schubert said.

“The number of meals provided has tripled, with now almost 900 meals provided every fortnight.

“We know that when our young people are nourished, they are better able to learn, so we fully support this charitable venture and their efforts to expand and ensure that no child goes hungry.”

Ms Okholm said the chefs who had stepped up were amazing alongside volunteers such as Robyn, Louise and Janine who had been giving up their time since the beginning of the charity five years ago.

“It’s a team effort and we value the contributions of every single person that donates their time, every business that helps us out with produce and every single donation that comes in the door.”