Launched on 15 July 2016, it’s been an exciting time as Nourish Network finds its feet and place in the local community.
Nourish is a volunteer-based, holistic outreach program developed to educate, empower and support parents and guardians finding it difficult to provide for their families.
Working with local schools in the Yarra Ranges (outer east of Melbourne), families are selected based on circumstances and their willingness to participate and eventually give back to their community.
A member-only program, Nourish partners with SecondBite and local businesses and organizations to provide a weekly allocation of fruit, vegetables, bread, eggs, recipes and nutritional information, wellbeing resources, friendship, and support.
As well as providing nourishment for their bodies, we also aim to help heal their souls by providing a place for respite where people can connect with others in similar situations and enjoy a variety of activities and therapies.
We used 2016 as a pilot year with a small group to gain insight into the social, emotional and financial struggles our members face so we are better able to provide for their needs.
Our café-style morning tea attended prior to collecting their food, encourages connections with others in similar circumstances and helps our families develop and grow into a supportive community.
What we offer
We aim to be different to traditional relief services by using a more casual and holistic approach. We never want people to feel like they’re just a number in a system or are being shuffled out the door. We want to connect with them on a human level and really understand their needs, not just financially, but emotionally as well.
- Food relief
Providing families with fruit, vegetables, bread, eggs, non-perishables and other essentials to relieve financial strain and increase nutritional intake.
- Healthy eating education
Nutritional information and education sessions along with cooking demonstrations to encourage better health.
- Social and emotional support
Most of our families are single mothers, fathers or grandparents with custody of grandchildren who are in need of social and emotional support. Our aim is to create a community of givers who look out for and assist others.
Single parents on low incomes carry huge burdens of responsibility and often neglect their own well-being and emotional needs. We want to help replenish their soul to help them move forward by offering classes and sessions such as art therapy and yoga/relaxation/anxiety class.
Handouts are never productive as a long-term solution, so families are asked to make a small financial contribution (of what they can afford), offer to teach a skill or provide a service to the wider community.
Our monthly “market day” is a buzz of activity! After our usual morning tea and food collection, members are invited to make selections from a range of goods and services that have been donated by locals and businesses.
These may include:
- Hand knitted scarves, beanies and gloves.
- Pre-loved clothing, shoes and household goods.
- Non-perishable food, cleaning products and personal hygiene items.
- Activities such as art therapy and relaxation, as well as a little pampering with haircutting, manicures and massage to improve self-care and increase self-esteem.
- Someone is always available to “chat” with anyone in need of a little TLC.
Nourish is exceptionally lucky to be well supported by incredibly kind and giving individuals, organisations and local businesses.
Beyond our wildest dreams, Nourish has already become so much more than an outreach program. It’s a place where people who want to give back but have trouble finding something local to help with, are able to in so many ways. Those with limited time can help by donating goods they no longer have a need for or knit a beanie while they’re watching TV. People who want to use their skills to make a difference are able to see where their efforts are most appreciated and experience the gratitude of those receiving. There are opportunities to get among the people or work quietly behind the scenes.
Personally, I’m thrilled to have my parents working with me. It gives them an outing each week and makes them feel useful and needed. It’s also giving us as a family, an opportunity to create some wonderful memories.
Nourish partners with Melba College (a local secondary school) to give students opportunities to help others and experience working in a space of giving. Our three students attend our weekly sessions but we are also supported by other students and staff at the school who work on projects with us. Students very generously provided Christmas pamper boxes and made beautifully decorated gingerbread houses as gifts for our families during the holiday season.
As a group, we also have the opportunity to support a local community meal. Being able to access some of the food we have delivered, The People’s Pantry are now able to expand their fortnightly meal to include more people from our community.
How you can help
We’re looking to partner with a variety of organisations, businesses, and individuals who want to give back and can offer:
- sessions teaching skills required for employment
- activities that nurture the mind, body and spirit
- therapies that help ease stress such as massage, yoga, etc.
- pampering therapies that people on low incomes are rarely able to enjoy
- new or preloved clothing
- seconds or samples of commonly used items like shampoo, cleaning products, personal hygiene items, etc.
- non-perishable food that would otherwise be thrown away
- other commonly used items families would otherwise need to purchase
If you live in the Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne and would like to help in some way, we’d love to hear from you! Please email Lisa here.
There are no words to express the gratitude we have for the immense support Nourish has received as people learn about the program. We’re incredibly lucky to collect weekly donations of bread to add to our food hall from Baker’s Delight and Coles in Mooroolbark and the most delectable morning tea is provided by Langford’s Patisserie.
We are exceptionally grateful to the following businesses and organizations who have offered their assistance in a number of ways: