There are just over 24 million Australians, and we eat out…on average… two to three times a week. That’s more than 50 million meals out each week.
Imagine if we can draw on this incredible food culture to help feed those in need in the developing world?
Four years ago, I was attending a leadership conference in London. I will never forget the words of the speaker as she spoke about the 140 million orphans across the world. She said: “How will these children know that they are loved”?
One year later I found myself standing on the streets of Manila, a city that is filled with thousands of children living on the streets. They are vulnerable to the world of abuse, violence, child prostitution and gangs. Can you imagine these children as young as two scavenging through rubbish bins and begging for food just to survive? Can you imagine children that are on drugs? …. not because they are involved in crime but to numb their stomachs from hunger. These children operate in survival mode one day at a time. Each day, their number one goal is to find…. FOOD…. to eat…so they can make it to the next day. How can these children know they are loved if their basic need of food is not even met?
They are not alone.
3.1 million children die from hunger each year. Of the 815 million people suffering from chronic hunger, 98% live in the developing world. How can children learn, grow and develop if they can’t even eat?
It begins with food.
So I started to think back to our food culture in Australia. THE $45 billion a year food culture. THE 85,000 places for Australians to eat out. THOSE 50 million meals out each week. Eating out is a big business in Australia. Here in this country, WE are living in the golden age of the foodie. It is something we shouldn’t feel guilty about. It is a beautiful part of our culture that brings people together, builds relationships and community. But imagine if we could tap into this food culture of Australia and create a new revolution of generosity within the foodie community. And so the idea of OnePlate was born.
Myself, along with my three co-founders and our OnePlate tribe, all believe that Australia has the power to impact world hunger simply by donating a dollar each time we eat out. OnePlate was launched one year ago by an incredible team of volunteers. At OnePlate no one is paid a wage. It has been built purely by the generosity of a hardworking, talented team of absolute stars… our volunteers. Our philosophy at OnePlate is to provide and implement innovative food solutions for those in need.
We have spent time researching food projects that are sustainable and that provide long-term solutions and impact. With the $15,000 we have already raised, we have funded a rooftop garden in Manila impacting 100 street children.
We have fully funded an agricultural program in Tacloban that has trained 120 poor families to grow their own food whilst also providing them the physical resources to begin their own vegetable gardens.
Our third project is funding two vegetable farms in the slum areas of Payatas that will impact the lives of hundreds of children.
Our fourth project is a family farm initiative in the Congo that will free child labourers and support families through education and basic supplies so that they can cultivate their own land, producing enough fresh food to sustain themselves, as well as giving excess to sell back into the local community.
This project is close to our hearts as it will ultimately free child labourers allowing them to be feed, educated and flourish.
Currently we are helping fund a ten-acre sustainable farm that will house 50 street families and feed 500 street children every week in Manila. This farm will become a template to create 29 sustainable villages over the next six years to relocate 87,000 displaced people living in slums in the north of the Philippines.
Funding the set-up costs for these self-sustaining food projects is a long-term approach in transforming the communities to become self-sufficient. It not only provides food for the children, but also teaches them life-long skills and educates them to have a long-term vision of growing their own produce and how to lead healthy and nutritious lives.
This breaks the cycle of poverty giving communities the opportunity to thrive… for life. Sustainable farms will not only generate food, but jobs. Around this will spring entrepreneurial projects such as restaurants, cooking classes and other skills.
Our partnerships with leading agricultural scientists and leading innovators in sustainability gives us the opportunity to provide the latest technology, resources and knowledge to our partners on the ground overseas. We are expanding fast and over the next 12 months we will be funding projects in Kenya, Timor, Thailand and Cambodia.
All of these sustainable food projects that we will be funding will all help street children, child labours and children who have been trafficked. The extraordinary benefits of these sustainable food projects not only teach the children to grow their own food but it is also extremely therapeutic and healing for them. Along with this it teaches them important life skills in patience, leadership and responsibility giving them confidence and a great sense of achievement. But more than anything …. it gives them a future… a future of hope.
It is in these gardens they encounter creation and they begin to dream and it is in this dream that hope and restoration begins to grow in their hearts.
And we want you to be part of this OnePlate story.
I would like to invite each of you tonight to join this movement of Australian foodies for impact. Partner and collaborate with us by getting your favourite restaurant, café, pub or bar to put our logo on their menu. Spread the word and encourage friends and family to make a donation towards our sustainable food projects.
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Over the next two months we want to raise $10,000 to build urban food and healing gardens in Freedom and Rescue centers in Thailand and Cambodia for children who have been trafficked.
In this golden age of the foodie, here in Australia, OnePlate has the potential to be a powerful vehicle for change, creating global impact through innovative sustainable food solutions.
Don’t we all want to see a food revolution here in Australia where every time we eat out we give back… to create impact…. to show these children that they are loved?
And so we believe that the foodies of Australia can unite together to see our food culture become one that awakens a new spirit of generosity that changes the lives of children in the greatest need…. one plate…. at a time.
Written by, Therese Nichols – Co – founder & Director One Plate