Out of the office and into the kitchen

Oct 19
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A team of 15 Criterion employees traded their phones for ladles and keyboards for chopping boards to cook for those in need last Thursday. 

Our Big Kitchen is a community-run industrial kitchen preparing meals for disadvantaged people across Sydney and Criterion was eager to assist. 

Staff embodied the company purpose, bringing people together to inspire change, and said the experience was a humbling way to give back to the community. 

“We did all come together to change (just for one night) the lives of those less fortunate. They would have been able to go to sleep feeling full and having something nutritional,” said Thea Denison, Sponsorship Manager. 

“I felt like we always take things like a simple meal for granted so making sure that someone less fortunate could have one meal that I helped prepare meant a lot to me.”

Hunger is a quiet but significant social problem, with more than 4 million Australians having experienced food insecurity in the last 18 months.

The demand on charities is increasing each year. Between 2017 and 2018 there was an increase from 46% to 51% of food insecure Australians seeking food relief, approximately 384,000 people. 

“I haven’t participated in a cause like this before and wanted to be able to give back,” Jennifer Bogias, Talent Acquisition & People and Culture Advisor explained. “Also, the idea of being able to cook a meal that would have been delivered to someone in need on the same night really stood out to me.”

Last year OBK distributed over 80,000 meals to disadvantaged Australians with the help of volunteers. They are on track to break that record this year with 100,000 meals cooked and delivered. 

OBK works closely with Second Bite and Foodbank to minimise food waste by rescuing surplus fresh food that would otherwise go to waste. The vegetarian-based meals (stews, curries, soups and stir fry) are developed with top Australian nutritionists to ensure they are nutritious and wholesome. 

Graphic Designer, Matt van Gend, said “the fact that stuck with me most was that any harvesting farms where the fruit has fallen from the tree onto the ground is deemed unsellable, even though there’s nothing wrong with the quality of the fruit.”

The cooked meals are distributed to shelters across NSW including Salvation Army, St Vincent de Paul, women’s and children’s refuges, and many more.

“It was a great example of bringing people together both internally and externally,” said Mr van Gend.

“The whole food prepping process encouraged us all to talk and work together with the chefs, cleaners and instructors. Externally, when the food is brought to shelters, the volunteers speak to every person they serve and everyone is apparently very humble and always up for a chat.”

Lisa Nguyen, Marketing Executive, said the message she left with was that “we are never too busy to help somebody.” 

If you’re interested in donating or volunteering go to www.obk.org.au to learn more.

Submitted by Claire Dowler

Claire Dowler

The Content Marketing Manager at Criterion Conferences, Claire is passionate about continuous learning, knowledge exchange and uniting people in overcoming emerging challenges facing Australia’s sectors.

She believes everyone has a story to tell and that words are like x-rays – when used properly, they can go through anything.

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