MAKING A LIFE CHANGING IMPACT
THE SOCIAL MEAL
We all understand the strain the current cost of living has created, but this strain is felt hardest by those in our community who are already struggling. So, we’re doing something about it. Our meal donation program, The Social Meal, serves up to 2,000 restaurant quality meals weekly to those in our community experiencing food insecurity. It also makes use of perfectly edible food that would otherwise go straight to landfill, repurposing over 800kgs of produce each week. Lovingly cooked by our experienced chefs and our Ability Social students, The Social Meal provides dignity and equality through food. Meals are served at weekly pop-up restaurants in the community to meet people where they are. This ensures community members feel comfortable and safe to share a meal. Because no matter who, where, or why, no one should ever go hungry.
To achieve long term outcomes for our team, we don’t just pay them for their working hours – we invest in them by funding formal qualifications and tangible soft skills training. Combined, these efforts set them up for successful careers. One way we do this is through our six-month, industry-led chef training school, Ability Social. Students, who were once recipients of our meal donation program, The Social Meal, are paid during their studies and practical work experience hours while they gain the skills and knowledge needed to work in a commercial kitchen. With at least 50% of student’s women and 50% First Nations, Ability Social brings important voices into our kitchens. For others employed across the Plate it Forward Group, in-house training is delivered by our team of hospo experts, and everyone is offered the opportunity to complete formal qualifications.
TRAINING & EDUCATION
Employment is critical to paving a way forward, building resilience – and self-confidence. From our diverse venues, premium catering service and right through to our restaurant-quality meal donation program, we employ individuals who have experienced complex and multiple barriers to employment. Through our Ability Social program, job-ready graduates are hired by Plate It Forward to further progress their careers. Through our venues, team members from diverse backgrounds are provided reliable and sustainable employment. No matter their experience, or lack thereof, we back our team – that’s why we focus on building management pathways, which means they gain greater work experience, and greater financial security for them and their families. What’s more, we know this works. In 2023 we’ve maintained a 90% retention rate amongst supported employees and supported 6 team members into senior leadership roles. We’re feeding potential and nourishing souls every step of the way.
When we share a meal, we tap into one of the deepest, most enduring sources of connection. It’s at the heart of everything we do – and we want everyone to share the experience. Our corporate team-building exercises, fundraising events, and purpose-led catering bring people together through the celebration of food. In the past 2 years we’ve served 359 catering orders from team lunches to formal events, and the best thing is, these also support food relief and staff training and employment. All up, a win-win for everybody!