Taree Community Kitchen is small but its contribution to the lives of vulnerable people is big.
It gifts free meals five days a week and volunteers are preparing to celebrate the service of 10,000 meals since CatholicCare took over the operation in 2015. Today NSW deputy premier John Barilaro will visit the kitchen in Victoria Street during a whistlestop tour of the region with Member for Myall Lakes, Stephen Bromhead.
It is a rare opportunity to showcase the work and needs of the kitchen to politicians who can green light access to state government coffers. Shaun Higgins is one volunteer who will stand ready to answer any questions Mr Barilaro may have about the need for the kitchen in our community. He knows a good meal served with kindness makes a difference in the lives of so many people, but also knows that funding and more volunteers are needed to allow the kitchen to open more than five days.
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Shaun gifts a fortnightly rostered day off from his job in Telstra network construction to work in the kitchen. It’s been almost a year of volunteering that he also shares with his wife, Joy. This Monday they will again arrive at the kitchen around 9am to work until about 2.30pm and their day will involve food preparation, serving lunch and cleaning up. Shaun says they never know how many people will arrive for lunch between noon and 1pm, it could be 20, it could be 40, but all will be served fresh, delicious food, and if they need additional support they will be guided to seek help from CatholicCare.
Gary Christensen, director of CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning describes the volunteers as amazing.
Each day they collect food donations from businesses across the region and, with little lead time, they turn these donations into delicious and nutritious meals.Gary Christensen
Shaun says more volunteers would mean more meals served on more days and he urges people to consider volunteer work at the kitchen.
“There is satisfaction in doing something to help others, and there is a need here that must be met.”