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People at Colombo Social
Photograph: Anna Kucera

This Sri Lankan restaurant is feeding Sydney's most vulnerable – and you can help

Matty Hirsch
Written by
Matty Hirsch

Not only have Sydney’s bars and restaurants pivoted their business models to incorporate takeaway and home delivery almost overnight in recent weeks, but they’ve also continued to show concern for the most vulnerable members of the community in these incredibly challenging times. Cafés across the city are now offering free coffee to healthcare workers, while eateries like Newtown’s Bella Brutta have launched initiatives to feed out-of-work hospitality staff. Down the road, in Enmore, Colombo Social has closed the doors to the public completely and turned into a production kitchen providing hot meals for those in need.

Social justice has always been on the menu at the Sri Lankan restaurant and bar, which opened in November of 2019 and recruits refugees and asylum seekers with the help of Newtown’s Asylum Seeker Centre and Settlement Services International. Now, co-owners Peter Jones-Best and Shaun Christie-David are casting the net even wider and hoping to supply up to 2,000 meals per day, free of charge, to charities and community centres like the Aboriginal Medical Service, Glebe TreeHouse and the Exodus Foundation, among others.

The team has partnered with suppliers and friends, such as LP’s Quality Meats, Nel chef-owner Nelly Robinson and MasterChef’s Kumar Pereira, and together they’ve concocted a menu of Sri Lankan staples and Western comfort classics like Caesar salads and chilli con carne, which they’re packaging individually and distributing with the help of Mission Australia. 

So far, more than 3,000 meals have been delivered and the list of recipients continues to grow. In order to keep the initiative alive and meet the increase in demand, Jones-Best and Christie-David have also kicked off a crowdfunding campaign, which has raised more than $25,000 to date. They’re hoping to make it to $100,000 and feed more than 50,000 people.

“Now is the time to come together, whilst being kept apart, and to do what we can to look out for our neighbours,” Christie-David says. “The beauty of mateship and kindness shone across Australia during the recent bushfires and it’s time, as Aussies, to continue to help each other when our mates need it.”

You can find out more about Colombo Social’s initiative and donate to the campaign here.

Looking for other ways to help and provide comfort? There's never been a better time to foster a rescued animal or adopt a pet.

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