Media and Communication Office
In the northern suburbs of Melbourne, as in many parts of the city, residents are being priced out of their local neighbourhoods. Accordingly, the need for free meals, community help and food banks is growing. In Thornbury a local initiative between the parish of St Mary’s and the Salvation Army is seeking to address this increasing need with a weekly community dinner.
The idea was sparked earlier this year by Fr Gerry Medici and Captain Lilian Platts during the joint Easter Walk. At the time, nowhere in Thornbury served free meals. In June, with enough volunteers between the two communities, the first Friday night dinner was served.
Chaplain Marie Kovacs serving the entrée, and the table decorations made by Year 5 students.
‘At the first few dinners, we had around eight people attend and now we have grown to around 24 people each Friday night,’ says Chaplain Marie Kovacs. Marie works in the city and volunteers on her way home to Reservoir.
Fr Gerry says it is important outreach work that involves the broader community, including children from local primary school St Mary's. ‘The Year 5 students school made the table decorations,’ he says.
Cheryl and Ralph preparing the main course
The volunteers serve a three-course meal every Friday. Last week it comprised an entrée of fresh bruschetta, a main meal of roasted chicken with salad, and a dessert of fresh pancakes with ice cream and berries.
The kitchen volunteers work hard and generously to make delicious and healthy meals. Joe, one of the kitchen volunteers, says contributing to the initiative helps to put faith into action. Geraldine, another volunteer, says she likes being part of two Christian communities coming together to pool their resources. ‘It also helps me to improve my knife skills!’ she laughs.
Geraldine chopping onions, and Fr Gerry mingling among the dinner guests.
Mary, from Lalor, is one of the regular dinner guests. She says she enjoys the friendly and familial atmosphere. ‘The volunteers are just beautiful, and the people who attend are good and there is no drama.’
The community dinner depends on the support of the local community. Donations include tinned goods from a local kindergarten, food from a nearby cafe, and bread and cakes from a local baker.
The team of volunteers at the community dinner.