Time Out is profiling the incredible people who are shaping the future of Melbourne in this Future Shaper series. We have asked a panel of esteemed judges comprising Senator Lidia Thorpe (Greens Senator for Victoria), Claire Ferres Miles (CEO of Sustainability Victoria) Pat Nourse (creative director, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival), Simon Abrahams (creative director and CEO of Melbourne Fringe), Peter Tullin (co-founder and CEO of Remix Summits) and Kate Vinot (chair of Zoos Victoria) to help us identify the people and organisations changing the future of Melbourne in the areas of food and drink; arts; community and culture; civics; and sustainability. In food, one such person is Marcus Godinho, the CEO for FareShare.
The story of FareShare started with pies, but these days CEO Marcus Godinho advises us the sausage rolls are the real winners. “The agencies love the sausage rolls we make because they're loaded with meat and vegetables,” he says. “I'm not usually a sausage roll eater, but jeez, these ones are good.”
It’s been more than 20 years since FareShare started rescuing surplus food and transforming it into top-quality meals for those in need, growing from a small Saturday morning pie baking operation to Australia’s largest charity kitchen. But as Godinho stresses, FareShare isn’t just about preventing food wastage and hunger. “It’s not just about putting something in [someone’s] stomach so that they're not hungry,” he says. “It's about making somebody feel as though they're valued, that they matter, that society will support them during a tough period.”
And while there are lots of food charities doing great work around the country (“And they deserve as much credit as we do,” Godinho says) FareShare specialises in taking industrial quantities of food and transforming it into meals that are both tasty and nutritious. “If you've got tomato canning business in central Victoria that's got crushed tomatoes that have two months life on them, but they’re in 44-gallon drums... a lot of charities can't do something with that, but that’s where FareShare’s niche is.”
Back in the day it was the FareShare team’s goal to pump out as many meals as they could, but in recent years they’ve changed tack slightly. As part of its mission to provide dignity and esteem in addition to a meal, the organisation is now focusing on the presentation of dishes. It seems like a small thing, but the group is working on presenting meals in a way similar to the commercial ready-to-eat-meals you find in a supermarket. “So it looks like something that the person next door who's doing fine and living independently might eat,” says Godinho. “It’s a big step for us. And it's difficult because it slows us down and it costs more. But the feedback we're getting from agencies that are helping vulnerable people and the feedback that we’re getting from vulnerable people themselves is really affirming.”
Does Godinho envision a world where FareShare is no longer needed? “Hopefully you could get a reduction in the need,” he says. “But there’s always going to be some need there.” As the last 12 months have proven, anyone can fall into tough times very quickly, and in 2020 there was an increase in demand for FareShare. “Especially people from overseas, international students, people who were here on working visas... they couldn’t get government support, they couldn’t get back home. They were stuffed,” Godinho says. “You've got people in circumstances that through no fault of their own that just need some help for a time.”
For those looking to help out their local community, Godinho has some advice. “The best thing is to do your research and to find a charity that aligns with your interests,” he says. “I think that a society where we've got people participating – whether it's in FareShare, or another food charity, or charities working in other sectors, or just looking after somebody down the street – is just a much richer society.”