• Food initiatives support refugees in many ways. (Feast for Freedom)Source: Feast for Freedom
Welcoming and assisting our new friends can often be as simple as organising your next meal.
Dilvin Yasa

15 Jun 2021 - 1:12 PM  UPDATED 28 Jun 2021 - 1:34 PM

Keen to find a way to help our asylum seekers and refugees friends, but not sure where to start? Make a few changes to the way you dine and not only will your lunch money go to those in need, but you'll also be on the receiving end of a tasty meal.

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Order a meal kit 

Purchase a vegetarian heat-at-home meal from Meals by ASRC Catering in Melbourne's Fitzroy North and not only will this meal feed the family, but your contribution will also provide a meal to someone seeking asylum who's supported by the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. That's not all; with every purchase you make, you also do your part to keep a person seeking refuge in employment.

Meals (which can be ordered online) can either be picked up from the ASRC Catering kitchen or delivered within a 20-kilometre radius if you've made a $50 minimum order.

You can volunteer to cook food for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre's food drive for asylum seekers in need.

Replace your usual bread

Make a slight tweak to your grocery list and purchase your weekly loaf of sourdough from The Bread & Butter Project, the country's first social enterprise bakery which invests 100% of its profits into training those seeking refuge and asylum in Australia to become qualified bakers.

How chefs are helping refugees rebuild their lives
These trailblazing chefs are connecting refugees with jobs in the kitchen and beyond.

Founded by Paul Allam and Jessica Grynberg (the couple behind Bourke St Bakery) after they taught a group of refugee women on the Thai-Burmese border how to establish a business to support themselves, The Bread & Butter Project has a vast range of options for your sandwich and toastie cravings. 

The brand can be found in all good Woolies Metro and Harris Farm stores.

The Bread & Butter Project: The humble social enterprise providing the less privileged employment opportunities by teaching them how to bake.

Organise catering for your next event (or picnic)

Love get-togethers, but not so keen on the catering (or cleaning up) part? Free To Feed, a not-for-profit social enterprise that trains and employs those seeking asylum, has a fantastic Melbourne-based catering service that delivers food to workplace events, large special gatherings and smaller events by way of picnic grazing boxes for two or four people.

All you have to do is jump online, choose from their seasonal menu (their current autumn menu has plenty of roast cauliflower, tahini and amba) and pay.

Free to Feed has several pick-up days for their popular picnic boxes.

Book a local food tour 

One of the positive things to have come out of our closed borders is just how much time we now have to explore our vibrant and varied neighbourhoods. Keen to pair exploration with eating? Taste Cultural Food Tours Inc, a charity and social enterprise providing training and employment opportunities to Australian migrants and refugees, offers a range of mouth-watering tours across Sydney.

Will you choose Taste of Vietnam in Cabramatta, Taste of Chinatown in Ryde or Taste of Afghanistan and Syria in Merrylands? With two-hour, local-led tours starting from just $60, I think we all know the best possible answer is "All of the above, please!"

Choose a refugee-friendly restaurant

Booking a table at hip social enterprise eatery, Colombo Social, is, at first glance, reward enough. Those eye-catching colours, those bold flavours.

Dig a little deeper of course and you realise that by dining at this Enmore eatery, you're helping this business to assist Sri Lankan asylum seekers and refugees by providing employment opportunities and supporting their migration into the country.

Other great initiatives around Australia that assist asylum seekers and refugees include Mu'ooz in West End, Brisbane, and Long Street Coffee in Melbourne's Richmond.

Learn to cook (once and for all)

Omelettes and spaghetti bolognese certainly have their place, but when it comes to the old culinary repertoire, you're eventually going to need to branch out. Happily, Free to Feed (yes, the same as above) runs a solid program of cooking experiences, so named because the instructors don't only teach students how to create dishes, but exchange ideas, memories and share in deep, powerful conversations.

Whether you're looking to tackle Persian New Year traditions in Iran or Colombia's Caribbean coastal street food, you can find a class to suit your tastes.

Organise a dinner party

Invite your family, friends and colleagues over for a bite and enjoy a dinner party with a difference. ASRC's Feast For Freedom (which was held in March 2021 with 2022 dates to be announced online) is a terrific fundraiser, allowing hosts to register their dinner party, receive recipes gifted by refugees, then raise funds for their Feast via their own fundraising page.

Don't want to wait for 2022? You can always hold your own dinner to raise funds for the ASRC.

Hamed Allahyari started out in Australia as a volunteer with the ASRC and has since opened Cafe Sunshine & SalamaTea in Melbourne.

Invite an asylum seeker for dinner

We all could do with a new friend or two and there's no better way to connect with a stranger than by breaking bread together.

The Welcome Dinner Project has been bringing together established Australians with those who have recently arrived on our shores, and while the old-school dinner party element has sadly, been shelved since the COVID-19 outbreak, you can still sign up to take part in a virtual welcome dinner.

Attend a Welcome Merchant event

During Refugee Week (20-26 June 2021), Welcome Merchant has announced a line-up of fantastic events in collaboration with refugee talents, chefs and entrepreneurs.

This Instagram account showcases the rich flavours of refugee-run businesses
Welcome Merchant helps refugee-led eateries and food companies gain a following – from Palestinian knafeh bakers to Persian jam makers.

Join in the fun by booking a place at a sumptuous six-course degustation dinner at Erskineville Town Hall, where cuisines will hail from Ethiopia, Syria and Sri Lanka. 60 per cent of the $130 tickets will go to the chefs who have migrant or refugee backgrounds.

Check out the full list of events at Welcome Merchant

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