Pumpkins were a symbol of support at Taree earlier this month when at-risk youth volunteered at the CatholicCare Community Kitchen.
The youngsters were at the site as part of the Pathfinders Pumpkin Run. In this initiative, they help grow pumpkins and vegetables on a farm in Armidale before they use the produce to cook meals for those in need in different locations around the state.
“Wanting to raise awareness of the steadily increasing problem of food insecurity and homelessness in our region, Pathfinders reached out to the Taree Community Kitchen to see if we would be interested in partnering with them on the Taree leg of their safari along the coast,” Taree Community Kitchen Coordinator, Sue Abdoo said.
“The young people who grew the pumpkins help to turn it into delicious pumpkin soup and then serve it to the people we support through the Community Kitchen.
“It was an opportunity for these young people to give back to the community.
“It was a real privilege to be part of the event. It is always good to collaborate with like-minded services in raising awareness of people at-risk in the community.”
Operating across the New England North West and Mid North Coast regions, Pathfinders supports vulnerable children and teenagers to become the best people they can be.
It offers several programs including out of home care, a regional youth centre, disability support and services.
This year for the Pumpkin Run, they planted more than 6,000 seeds and delivered more than 10 tonnes of produce with the help of staff, their out of home care kids and other young people.
Sue said a highlight of the day was seeing everyone interact with each other.
“I think, for me, [my favourite part of the day] was seeing the reactions of the people we support when they were served by young people,” she said.
“Our diners are generally very appreciative of our service, with many relying upon our presence in the community to provide them with a helping hand when they need one.
“I have found over the years that whenever another service in that space supports us, it really lifts people’s moods when they see a genuine care factor in the community.”