An ambitious food partnership with Loaves and Fishes has resulted in Montrose Bay High School cooking 100,000 meals over 10 years for vulnerable Tasmanians.
Loaves and Fishes provides the bulk raw ingredients, labels and distribution, and Montrose Bay students cook up a weekly feast of 250 meals, packed and ready to go to Tasmanians doing it tough.
The school celebrated the 100,000 meal last Wednesday, with organisers reflecting on just how far the program has come, from four students and a single hot plate, to a state-of-the-art commercial kitchen and two groups of 30 cooks from Years 7 to Year 10.
Montrose Bay food program coordinator, Nigel Walsh, said there was a waiting list of students wanting to be part of the cooking crew.
“We now have students who have been part of the program for four years, growing in skills and confidence to be able to mentor and supervise the younger students,” he said.
“They take an enormous amount of pride in their work, knowing that what they cook will be helping those who are struggling.
“We’ve come a long way from making soup in what used to be the sewing room.”
Nigel, who has been with the program since its start, along with kitchen partner Lindy Wood, said some of the past graduating students had gone on to be involved in the hospitality sector as a result of the school kitchen.
Working with what you have
As with the two Loaves and Fishes kitchens in Devonport and Hobart, the Montrose Bay kitchen has to be creative with recipes, using the raw ingredients donated on any given week in meal planning.
On the week of the 100,000th meal, the students produced roast pork and vegetables and a chicken stir fry, as well as cakes to mark the milestone.
Loaves and Fishes CEO Andrew Hillier said the students were rescuing good Tasmanian food from landfill, learning a skill, developing a taste for nutritious, tasty food, and helping some of the one-in-fiveTasmanians who are regularly going hungry.
“This is an amazing place-based initiative that is using local produce and volunteer labour to help ease the cost-of-living crisis in a tangible and sustainable way,” he said.
“We are so proud to partner with Montrose Bay.
“I also want to acknowledge the incredible work of Loaves and Fishes general manager, Aaron Kropf, who approached the school a decade ago and has worked with Nigel and the team ever since.”
Food and nutrition are an important part of the Montrose Bay mandate. The school runs a breakfast program and has a community garden in partnership with 24 Carrot that will supply fresh produce for meals from next year.
A few weeks ago, Loaves and Fishes celebrated producing its one millionth meal.