Student Daniel Poole inside his charity food truck. Photo: Eddie Jim
In Thursday's brilliant sunshine, law student Daniel Poole was skipping a civil procedure lecture to hang out in an RMIT courtyard next to Old Melbourne Gaol.
But he wasn't drinking beer and lolling on the grass. He was making crepes – in his Crepes for Change van, a not-for-profit social enterprise that raises money for the homeless.
Poole, 21, hoped the truck would be a sweet little earner when he started taking it to markets and universities last month.
But Crepes for Change, run by three paid staff and 19 volunteers, has already raised $10,000 attending eight events, and has 50 gigs lined up before Christmas.
He hopes to raise more than $100,000 in a year to train disadvantaged young people in coffee- and crepe-making, partnering them with cafes to provide jobs, and also to fund other charities such as HoMie, which helps homeless people.
Crepes for Change is already fundraising for a second van, and Poole gets five emails a day asking them to events.
But why crepes? When he was 15, he was an exchange student in the crepe centre of the world – the French province of Brittany. His host family held weekly crepe nights, serving up traditional sweet and savoury crepes with cider.
As a student back in Melbourne, he worked at crepe cafes to maintain the link with France.
Crepes for Change is thriving off the current crazes both for crepes and Nutella. Nutella and lemon sugar crepes are a staple but he will also rotate flavours including Snickers (peanut butter and chocolate), cinnamon doughnut and Tim Tam.
He says that for customers, knowing their money is going to a good cause is a bonus, "but I think they wouldn't come if the crepes weren't good."
CFC was inspired by the success of the STREAT charity that employs disadvantaged young people to run coffee carts and cafes and raises money for social welfare programs.
He and his brother Liam, 19, raised $12,000 by crowd funding to have the Crepes for Change van custom-built, and also found $10,000 in grants to fund a coffee machine and import crepe hotplates from France.
He would like to assure his law professors that he watches their lectures on video – at 3am if necessary. And also that in developing the van, he has learned business skills, retail and charity law, marketing, hospitality and entrepreneurship.
But the lure of making crepes is irresistible. "It's definitely an art. Just between you and me it's not as hard as it looks, but you do it and people say, 'oh, wow, that's amazing'. That's kind of cool."