Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Report on the Community Lunch session

Saturday, February 20th, 2016
Welshmans Reef Winery
Attendance: 27 (including Maggie)

Margaret Griffin, who does the front desk at Community Lunch, has agreed for a while to be the reference point for the future of Newstead Community Lunch
  • Anthony will leave all the utensils and important contact details with her when he leaves
  • She will be in touch with the three people (Melissa, Guy and Rose) who generously put themselves forward at this gathering
Phone: 54722855 Email:

Anthony Santamaria has been providing Newstead with Community Lunches each Wednesday for past two and half years.
In March he leaves for Italy for an extended stay.
Our final Community Lunch is March 2
This Rocket Science Session - Community Lunches - was planned to give Anthony the opportunity to share his passion for creating community by bringing people together to feed them.
Anthony’s mother was a major influence, both for her recipes and ability to create a sense of home and family with her generous nature and hospitality.

The attendance of over 20 Community Lunch regulars for this Rocket  Science Session is a tribute to his success. The Lunch is now a social highlight of the week for many of us; with people from all walks of life, from babies to seniors, enjoying a vegetarian meal, company and meeting new people. Apparently the vibe at Newstead is a lot different to Maldon & Castlemaine Lunches.

In his presentation Anthony outlined the challenges in preparing good food for approximately 30-40 people using volunteers of varying skill levels. Healthy fresh ingredients, much of it donated or saved from compost, a main course, salad and dessert for $3.00. Only a dozen or so pay $5.00 as a donation.

Anthony somehow manages to feed a crowd each week on a miniscule budget. Income is boosted by sales of surplus fruit & vegetables donated by Rob Kirby (Wesley Market) who shares an abhorrence of wasted food. Sprout Bakery donates bread & Powlett Hill donate bio-dynamic flour.

A non-profit making ethos, no grants or bureaucratic interference is Anthony’s preference, but he has stringent standards for food handling and safety. He doesn’t accept food cooked off site.
Despite the time pressures and unpredictability of ovens, Anthony emphasised the need for fun, cooking with goodwill, avoidance of conflicts and negativity as the quality of the food will be affected.

Margaret has been a major, ongoing supporter, keeping track of procedures and details. Margaret ceases her involvement when Anthony finishes up, but is happy to initially assist the group for admin advice.
Anthony is preparing,  with Margaret’s assistance, detailed handover notes/book and some recipes, if needed . is a useful resource Anthony recommended.

Volunteers come from a variety of sources and backgrounds providing valued assistance , working hard in food prep and the major cleanup after. Their cheerful, busy efforts are much appreciated. Continued support of some voluntary labour will require Newstead  Community Lunch to be auspiced and recognised as a non-profit, community group.

Genuine concern from all present that Anthony’s departure might signal the end of Community Lunch in Newstead.

Options on the table so far:
  • Grant application for funding of a chef/cook?
  • RTC to auspice Community Lunch?
  • Monthly lunch rather than weekly?
  • Monthly evening meal - might attract more?
  • Rose, Vanessa and Guy have expressed their interest/willingness to cook - under discussion
  • Co-ordinator needed  - to attend to ordering supplies, admin matters to free up cooks in the kitchen.
  • Support crew of volunteers needed
  • Funds needed to assemble kitchen tools, equipment, machines - Anthony supplied his own which will be taken to Italy where he has plans to make a community kitchen there.
  • Newstead Community Bus to collect those unable to drive to attend lunch/dinners.
  • CWA involvement in funding/grant application?

Our thanks once again, to our generous host, Ron Snep of Welshmans Reef Winery.

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