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Lentil as Anything, Abbotsford Convent
Photograph: Graham Denholm

Footscray's Lentil as Anything at risk of closure

Written by
Delima Shanti
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Pay-as-you-feel restaurant Lentil As Anything may lose its Footscray outpost due to a decrease in contributions that has been felt since 2016. In response, the vegan and vegetarian restaurant has set up an online fundraising campaign as well as a fundraising event to go ahead on March 26. In a statement released on Lentil As Anything's gofundme page, the restaurant says the western suburbs site is at risk of closing because "[the] community is failing us". They cited their numbers from February 27, when the eatery served 115 plates of food and only made a total of $148.60. This breaks down to $1.29 per serving, which the restaurant says "barely covers [the] costs of anything, not just for food".

Despite the risks that comes with trusting their customers to pay whatever they want, Lentil As Anything has maintained that this is an essential part of the service they provide to the community, especially the disadvantaged. Their motto is, after all, "everyone deserves a place at the table". However, this gesture of goodwill has dragged the business into financial trouble. In 2015, the Abbotsford branch recorded a loss of around $4000 even though almost 1,500 people were served throughout the day.

Lentils As Anything Abbotsford

Nonetheless, Lentil As Anything founder Shanaka Fernando has been sticking to his guns by sticking to the pay-as-you-feel model. Every restaurant has a money box diners can put their money into and there is usually a pricing guide on each box, outlining what a donation can pay for. If you want to help keep the Footscray Lentil As Anything open, check out the fundraiser event on March 26, where vegan munchies will be served all day as well as bottomless coffee and chai. 

If you want to give back to the community in Melbourne check out our profiles of the people doing good in Melbourne.

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