STREAT eats take to the streets
Image via @streatmelbourne Instagram.
For many of us the COVID-19 pandemic has brought significant challenges to every day life. But, for so many more, it has also put their very livelihoods at risk.
Beyond these difficult new realities, is the very stark one for the vulnerable and disadvantaged in our communities whose need has never been more acute. For a group of young people employed by social enterprise STREAT, support is critical during this time.
On a mission to stop youth homelessness and disadvantage, STREAT provides holistic support to those aged 16-25, helping them off the streets and into a sustainable, healthy life. Young people who participate in the program are offered on the job work experience in hospitality, access to education and, importantly, personal support.
Elise Bennetts, STREAT Deputy CEO/Chief Relationships Officer, says while in-person training has been impacted by café closures, support has moved online since the pandemic.
“Our youth programs team, made up of a clinical psychologist and social workers, are providing phone and video support which in these times of uncertainty are crucial,” Elise says.
Nevertheless, the focal point of STREAT’s activities, their cafes, have had to close or severely restrict business.
Undaunted – and almost overnight -STREAT pivoted from its core café offering, ensuring with the support of its partners it can continue doing as much as possible to support young homeless people and break the cycle of disadvantage.
In line with Government directions, STREAT cafes located in Melbourne’s Collingwood, Parkville and Melbourne Central site shifted to takeaway only [for now]. In addition, cafes located within corporate spaces (ANZ, ARUP, AMP and RACV) have been closed.
With the support of government initiatives Jobseeker and JobKeeper, STREAT has been able to continue to employ permanent staff (albeit on reduced hours) with its takeaway offering. It has also moved to introduce home delivery and kick started a new service, Moving Feast, to provide food relief to those most in need.
Elise says STREAT was fortunate to be able to act quickly. “We already had the commercial kitchen in operation pre COVID so it was a matter of thinking ‘Ok what can we do from here?’ – home deliveries were a natural answer,” she says.
Images: @streatmelbourne Instagram.
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You can make a donation to keep STREAT’s kitchens bustling, delivery vans on the road and new produce growing for future meals.
With your help, Moving Feast, together with STREAT and over 20 other social enterprises collectivley can deliver over 50,000 meals a week to vulnerable Victorians. Go to movingfeast.net to find out more.
Follow on Instagram @movingfeastvic
Images: @movingfeastvic Instagram
A moving feast
STREAT is leading Moving Feast, a new collaboration of 20 Victorian food social enterprises working together to-provide food relief to Victoria's most vulnerable young people during COVID-19.
Elise says the initiative covers all areas of the food system from growing through storage, cooking, distribution and education.
“It’s about strengthening the food supply chain – especially when things like COVID-19 occur. While we are in the relief stage of the pandemic, there’s huge support for it to continue into the future,” she says.
“Collectively we’re able to provide ready-made meals and food boxes to community groups who are experiencing a huge amount of need as job losses rise, mental health issues are spiking and family violence is at its peak,” she says.
Meals are prepared in STREAT’s kitchens and fresh food boxes are picked and packed within its cafes.
As many businesses shift online - and will likely remain that way beyond the crisis - STREAT is still about human connection and physical presence. Elise says COVID-19 may see STREAT undergo a few changes including its home delivery service but young people go to STREAT to have somewhere to call home.
“Our style of delivery has connection at its core. We connect young people to other people, to networks and they come to our communal spaces to be together and to learn and grow,” she says.
“That will never change.”
Caryn Kakas, Head of Housing Strategy ANZ says support for social enterprises like STREAT is so important now, more than ever.
“Last year we welcomed STREAT onto our campus and into the ANZ Community, and with every coffee purchase our staff knew they were able to help them deliver on their mission. STREAT’s grocery delivery service provides us with a seamless way to continue to support STREAT and also those who need our help now, more than ever.”
STREAT delivered care packages to its trainees including food staples, toilet rolls, ready-made meals and support materials from various agencies to help through this period. Elise says they were glad they were able to help their young cohort, even if from a distance.
“We received so many incredibly lovely messages of thanks, evidence of just how much this support is needed right now,” she says.
If you or anyone you know would like to enquire about STREAT’s program, visit https://www.streat.com.au/youth/apply
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