A food-rescue organisation since 2005, OzHarvest started the Nourish program to help vulnerable youth pursue jobs in the hospitality industry. A chef by trade, Belinda Woollett is the manager of Nourish in Alexandria in Sydney.
“We've actually been doing youth work for some years, but the Nourish program has been in full swing for 12 months,” says Woollett. “We ran three pilot programs in 2014 to understand what resources we would need and what the need in the community is. We are in constant contact with our food-donor supporters to establish who is currently looking for staff and in what areas. We also hear what the career-progression goals of the students are.”
A key element of the program is to provide the kind of guidance and mentorship that the students aren’t getting elsewhere. Though food preparation is the main focus, students also gain resume-writing and job-interview tips, and insight through class visits from industry professionals. “[Work] could be anything from a barista in a local cafe, to reception in a major hotel, or even an apprenticeship under one of Australia’s leading chefs,” Woolett says.
Woolett is currently organising the first intake of students in Sydney and Adelaide for 2016, and is positive that the benefits of the Nourish program will reach further than the students and the hospitality industry. “Students learn the core of what OzHarvest does, so they get to see the food that is collected by OzHarvest and learn how they can reduce their waste on a personal and at an industry level,” she says. “We show them that they can love what they do, and do it with a conscious mind.”