SmartMeals: Tasty slices of help are a triple-win in tricky times

Nathan Toleman, from Liminal cafe, is helping out with SmartMeals.
Nathan Toleman, from Liminal cafe, is helping out with SmartMeals. Photo: Supplied

Homeless advocacy group StreetSmart Australia is running a COVID-19 response called SmartMeals. It's a triangle of good: they fund existing charities to buy meals from restaurants and the charities then give the food to people doing it tough.

The program feeds the needy but it's also designed to help restaurants stay afloat, with most eateries using the funds to support visa workers who aren't eligible for JobKeeper.

Currently, 11 restaurants and cafes in four states are supplying 1950 meals a week, among them Melbourne's Earl Canteen, Pastuso and Liminal.

Sean Kierce of Ladro Gertrude, which is cooking food for SmartMeals.
Sean Kierce of Ladro Gertrude, which is cooking food for SmartMeals. Photo: Supplied

Pizza place Ladro Gertrude is cooking 400 meals a week for Fitzroy charity St Mary's House of Welcome using the small fee from StreetSmart to cover food costs and labour.

"It's literally saved our business," says owner Ingrid Langtry. "We've been able to keep two full-time visa holder chefs employed and have a small amount of money flowing through the doors."

The support goes beyond the financial. "Everything is so wobbly at the moment," says Langtry. "SmartMeals has given us a purpose and guiding compass. It's been the one consistent thing we've been able to aim for and achieve."

Donate at streetsmartaustralia.org/smartmeals