Open Table

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There is no such thing as a free lunch right? Wrong.


Fawkner Park, South Yarra hosted its very first Open Table picnic with free, healthy and delicious food created by a team of volunteers from surplus food that would ordinarily have gone to waste.


We waste a lot of food in Australia; $8 billion worth of edible food ends up in landfill every year while there are people who don’t have enough to eat.


Thanks to Eli Oliver, Hung Dao and Vivek Kotak with the assistance of Second Bite, local businesses and a bunch of volunteers, some of this good food was diverted from this cycle and turned into a tasty meal to be shared.


“Open Table is a community initiative run by local volunteers from across the diverse spectrum of residents aiming to foster deeper connections between neighbours through a community feast utilising surplus food donated from various local organisations” said the organisers of the picnic.


How does it all happen?


The fun begins when the van of rescued food arrives at the community kitchen. A chef assesses it, designs a menu and sets the volunteers to chopping, mixing, cooking and, with much chatting and laughing, a meal is prepared.


Getting to know your fellow volunteers is an eye opener. All kinds of professions and interests find common ground in their desire to connect with their community and to do something good for others. While they cook, local gardeners pop in with handfuls of herbs and bowls of salad greens to donate. Some are given surplus food to take away too.


The time passes quickly and soon enough it is lunch time. The feast is laid out on a picnic table while the word goes around Fawkner Park that lunch is served.

image of Eli Oliver, Hung Dao and Vivek Kotak

The curious locals drift in and mingle with the volunteers, their friends and kids, sharing food and stories, discussing, well everything and anything. A gathering of diverse people enjoying a meal, laughter and the sunshine out in the park.


And there are the two principles at the heart of Open Table: minimising food waste and meeting the neighbours or as they say on their website “we use surplus food to create wholesome community feasts, bringing together people from all walks of life”.


There really is a sense of social inclusion that is worked into every aspect of the meal from preparation to eating together to cleaning up.


And when it is all over it is hard to leave the impromptu community that has sprung up, everyone promises to come to the next one and bring their friends.


If you would like to attend an Open Table event or get involved then go to the Facebook page where you can keep up to date with all of the established events North of the city and the new events south side. Businesses are welcome to make donations of good food and build relationships with their local community.

Contact if you would like to get involved.

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