Operating for the last 30 years under different providers, the Community Kitchen transitioned to CatholicCare in December 2015 and provides a key community outreach service to locals of Taree, says Director Helga Smit:
"The Kitchen builds on CatholicCare's existing community engagement programs including our Refugee Service and Community Care Van, by providing assistance to vulnerable members of the community regardless of their age, gender, physical and intellectual capacity, religion or ethnicity."
"With the generous support of CatholicCare staff, volunteers and donors, the Kitchen now opens its doors to the public five days a week. It's a space where people can feel safe, enjoy the company of others and have access to other relevant services via information and referral," Ms Smit said.
CatholicCare was fortunate to receive a $30,000 grant from the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation, to provide a much needed revamp to the Kitchen.
Foundation Chairman, Michael Slater, said the grant was made to make the Taree Community Kitchen's important community service sustainable in a community facing a higher than average unemployment rate and a range of social issues, particularly youth unemployment:
"Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation's grant recognises the important service Taree Community Kitchen provides both in providing meals to people in a position of disadvantage and as a vital community link to ensure the vulnerable and isolated have access to appropriate services," Mr Slater said.
The Kitchen is also sponsored by a number of local businesses including Coles – SecondBite Community Connect Program, Mayo Private Hospital, MidCoast Council, Taree West Plaza Butchery, Lambert's Butchery, Eddie's Fresh Chicken, Bakers Delight, McGrath Butchers, Car Park Deli, Mentges Master Meats, Manning Valley Pie Company, Centerpoint Fresh Chickens & Game Meats, Gourmet Meats & Chicken, Cundletown, Old Bar Beach Quality Meats and Solomon's Fruit & Vegetables.
The opening will also feature the support from three local schools with St Clare's Taree students overseeing catering for the day, 'Welcome to country' managed by Taree High School students and live performances from students of the Manning Valley Anglican College School Choir.
Those interested in volunteering or donating to the Taree Community Kitchen are encouraged to contact CatholicCare on (02) 6539 5900.