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Recipe4Change provide quality meals and the training to cook simple delicious meals

Christine started Recipe 4 Change as a social enterprise. Soon, it evolved into a Not For Profit so she could broaden the services to her local community. Cooking wholesome food is the centre of their activities as everyone has to eat

What impact has Recipe4Change had on the community?

Over 7 years, Recipe4Change have supported over 150 job seekers into work, taught over 2,000 people & kids to cook, delivered free fresh food services into local primary schools, and we have given away in excess of 5,000 free meals to people going hungry

Start Your Food Business R4C3 Food Entrepreneur Series - Recipe4Change

Could you please describe your product or service?

Recipe4Change exists for our community. We’re doing what we can to ensure local families have access to wholesome nutritious food

These seven years has given us insight into people’s eating habits and choices. We have campaigned for years to change the poor food parcels that are currently on offer to most families experiencing tough times.

Three years ago we brought people together in the hope of that we would agree that good food was a better option for hungry people and to make the experience of asking for assistance less demeaning. We asked a chef to talk about the poor quality of food offerings, highlighting that she could not make one meal from the food box given to a family to sustain them for three days. At the time many who attended our conference agreed but when it came to doing something about it, they backed off so we gave up and concentrated on what we do best, provide quality services. 3 years on and our concerns are the same.

The general consensus by people who have not experienced tough times is that poor people should be grateful what they are given regardless of the negative impact of poor food especially on children’s ability to learn and participate fully in life. We thought we were doing the right thing by reducing food waste, taking surplus produce from supermarkets. Whilst we did save on direct overheads, the hidden cost in time to sort and dispose of the inedible kgs was both time consuming and costly.

In effect we became the vehicle of free disposal to both the supermarkets and the intermediary. In 2017 one of our stated goals was to move away from “rescued food” and forge partnerships with local producers and to only deal in first quality produce. This week we have achieved this working with one producer to provide food grown for purpose ensuring there is no food waste and new collaborations that will provide produce from small landholders.

At Recipe4Change we passionately believe in giving a hand up in tough times but not continual handouts that keep people in poverty. We will continue to put people before profits.

How long have you been in business?

More than 5 years

Start Your Food Business R4C2 Food Entrepreneur Series - Recipe4Change

Can you tell us how you started your business?

After working in the disability employment sector for a number of years, I decided I could provide better quality people centred opportunities outside the industry as my focus would be the job seekers. Originally setting up as a social enterprise I changed to NFP status so I could broaden the services to our local community.

Cooking wholesome food is the centre of our activities as everyone has to eat. Six years ago we commenced Thursday community lunches with many still attending today, probably because we make awesome desserts. Payment is by donation.

Appalled by the number of students attending primary school hungry, two years ago we started to fresh food supplies to seven local primary schools and meals for families doing it tough. I trialled cooking classes in primary schools to encourage students to make healthier food choices, championed cooking with confidence sessions for people with low vision and this year (2018) we offered twelve year11/12 high school students with intellectual & learning disabilities SBAT traineeships so they can earn and learn in a nurturing real workplace so they can work towards sustainable employment and eventually independence.

We operate on fee for service including selling our small batch seasonal jams, baked items & occasional catering.

What would you say has been your biggest challenge and how did you over come it?

Our biggest challenge has been people expect we provide our services for free. In hindsight I think using “Community” in our business name has contributed to the perception of soup kitchen style services and that is so far from the truth of our operations. I apply commercial principles to our operations and our lunches are full service starting with the meet and greet at the door.

What is the one thing that has had the biggest impact to your success?

A close circle of “go to” business colleagues who can give clarity with a single insightful question and are there for me no matter the time of day. There have need two occasions in the last seven years that I sent an email late at night & the same people were there for me.

Start Your Food Business R4C Food Entrepreneur Series - Recipe4Change

Any words of wisdom you would like to share with our readers?

When deciding to collaborate & bring stakeholders on board, I suggest the following 6 steps; 1. Dig deep and establish your purpose & then search & target businesses which appear to have a similar purpose.

2. Dig deeper with your preferred alliances ask questions, lots of them – be like an Interpol agent. Not just of the company but also the employees. It is not enough to share mutual visions

3. Identify your weaknesses- leverage each other’s strengths

4. Documentation is important to spell out responsibilities, risks, rewards, payments, service level agreements, branding guidelines, rules of engagement etc.

5. Senior executives are the main influencers, it is imperative they are on board with the partnership vision & communicate down

6. Ensure all parties communicate regularly so that clients/customers feel confident the partnership is sustainable.

Christine has combined her passion and dedication to the community with her business acumen to develop a business that everyone can connect with

If you too want to start your own food business, check out the Everything You Need To Start Your Food Business online course. It includes 5 modules, 25 lessons, video guides, worksheets, templates and even industry contacts so you can have the best start to your business success!

Start Your Food Business R4C5 Food Entrepreneur Series - Recipe4Change

Christine Smith

Founder of Recipe4Change

Website | www.rowvillecommunitykitchen.com.au

Instagram | @recipe4change

Facebook  | www.facebook.com/recipe4change

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