Choosing food from any locked down restaurant or cafe is doing good at the moment. It keeps people employed, helps farmers roll through the seasons and ensures neighbourhoods and city streets will be vibrant in the After Times.
That said, there are some businesses putting extra emphasis on helping out as they cook up so if you want your dinner to also be a good deed, here are some places to consider.
ASRC Catering is a social enterprise that offers employment pathways for people seeking asylum. Function and event bookings have evaporated but you can still enjoy their global menus at home. Purchasing not only keeps refugees and asylum seekers working, each meal also funds dinner for someone in the ASRC community. You can even top up your order with "pay it forward" meals to help more people. I love the Afghani sweet potato and pumpkin parcels and the fragrant biryani rice dish from the Sundram family's treasured recipe. meals.asrc.org.au
The Local Drop started as a wine store but pandemic refashioning has seen founder Jagdev Singh add seafood and produce boxes to the offering. The veg boxes and native flower arrangements are from farmers who normally sell to restaurants. You can buy (or even subscribe) for yourself and also purchase community produce boxes for those doing it extra tough around Victoria. thelocaldrop.com.au
The Little Social keeps the Rosanna community caffeinated while employing young people facing disadvantage in the Banyule area. As well as skilling up the next generation of baristas, they're donating profits from every coffee sold during this lockdown towards homeless services.
Little Social is also part of the amazing SmartMeals program that sources funding to pay partner cafes (17 across five states) to cook meals, which are then donated to charities. The program will soon clock up 200,000 meals and is always looking for funding.
75 Turnham Avenue, Rosanna, 0459 779 002, facebook.com/thelittlesocialcafe
Sikh Volunteers Australia
Sikh Volunteers Australia are truly the best of us, stepping up in every crisis with free vegetarian meals, delivered throughout the city. If you need a feed, text 0452 401 734. If you'd like to help these beautiful people with their heart-filled service, head to sikhvolunteersaustralia.org to donate.
Maria's Pasta usually provides fresh and filled pasta for restaurants but cancelled orders have seen them cook up the excess and give it away. Support their community endeavours by buying pasta, groceries and ready meals, plus salads, deli goods and ice cream.
706 Nicholson Street, Fitzroy North, 03 9380 5800, marias.com.au
Shamiat is a refugee-powered Syrian restaurant and takeaway. Order direct (preferably) or via delivery platforms. Specialties include kibbeh labanieh (fried lamb dumplings in yoghurt sauce) and mujaddara, a hearty vegetarian dish of lentils, rice and caramelised onions.
64 Victoria Road, Northcote, 03 9486 4458, shamiat.com.au