Adventist friends serve up meals support for frontline workers

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Staff members from St Vincent's Hospital, Melbourne, receiving Life.Box meals.

A group of Adventist friends have started a meals delivery initiative supporting frontline workers in major hospitals and healthcare facilities in Melbourne (Vic).

The group launched Life.Box two weeks ago as an opportunity to reach out to healthcare colleagues and contribute to the COVID-19 response effort in a meaningful way.

The group includes a dentist, doctor, nurse, two accountants, a financial services product manager and three chefs. All are members of The Mission Collective—young Adventists from across Australia focused on finding innovative and effective ways of reaching out to their peers and colleagues.

In the first week of operations, the Life.Box team supplied more than 150 meals to staff at Epworth Hospital Richmond, St Vincent’s Hospital, Cabrini Hospital, pharmacies and disability care clinics across Melbourne.

Chefs Dores Fame, Henry Pun and Feny Belinda are contributing their highly regarded culinary skills to the cause. Ms Fame runs a small catering business supplying the canteen services for Nunawading Christian College. She had to close her commercial catering kitchen after coronavirus lockdown measures meant nearly all catering contracts were cancelled for at least three months, and some until the end of 2020. Mr Pun and Ms Belinda were both recently stood down from their jobs at the Esplanade and Ink Hotel kitchens. Amidst their own financial stress, they were delighted their skills could be used to support those who are also doing it tough.

Chefs Feny Belinda & Henry Pun.

Delivery, communications and administration are covered by the rest of the volunteer team. Their donations of time and resources means all funds raised via the Life.Box GoFundMe page are used solely for meals.

Dentist Berenice Cheng, who also helped pioneer The Mission Collective, said the group have chosen to make Life.Box’s meals plant-based. “As Adventists, we are passionate about healthy living and see this as a unique opportunity we have to share the health message with a demographic we have not been able to reach before,” said Ms Cheng, who was also recently stood down.

“Whilst many restaurants and catering businesses have jumped on the bandwagon of feeding health workers to see themselves through the downturn, we recognise that many in healthcare have dietary requirements that may preclude them from enjoying the full selection of free meals presently being offered to healthcare workers. We want to supply them attractive, plant-based meals that are nutritious and so tasty that they don’t even realise they’re plant-based!

“Several of the team come from small business backgrounds and so we have a heart to reach those in smaller clinics, pharmacies and healthcare facilities who may not be experiencing the same outpouring of love, support and food donations that larger hospitals enjoy – those who, like them, remain nameless and continue to work tirelessly.”

To make a donation to the Life.Box initiative, go to https://is.gd/lifebox.