With the city in lockdown, City of Newcastle has handed over its unused commercial kitchen facilities to help charities prepare healthy meals for families struggling to get by.
Newcastle City Hall's Executive Chef, Mark Rusev, is putting his culinary skills to use by preparing meals to be delivered to families at Ronald McDonald House.
The City’s commercial kitchen at the Fort Scratchley Function Centre has also been donated to Catholic Care Social Services where they will prepare 300 healthy meals each week.
Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said City of Newcastle’s Civic Services Venues & Catering team reached out to local charities to offer up the City’s unused commercial kitchen facilities, to help charities meet increased demand.
"Many Newcastle families are experiencing financial difficulty and facing economic uncertainty as a result of the prolonged lockdown, placing immense strain on local charities,” Cr Nelmes said.
"Due to current restrictions, our facilities’ commercial kitchen spaces are temporarily not operating, so our Civic Services Venues & Catering team came up with an initiative to open their kitchens to support charities who have either had to scale up due to COVID-19, or have been adversely affected by the lockdown measures.
“City of Newcastle team members have supported Ronald McDonald House in recent years by visiting the house to prepare meals for families, so this is a wonderful way of continuing our support in a COVID-safe way by cooking in our own facilities and delivering the meals.”
Ronald McDonald House Community Engagement Coordinator Kerryn Scully said she was appreciative of the City of Newcastle’s offer to cook meals for families staying at the House during the current lockdown.
“Families staying at Ronald McDonald House are finding it very difficult at the moment to simply pop down to the supermarket to purchase ingredients to prepare their own meals, as they need to remain extra vigilant to COVID-19 in order to protect their child undergoing vital treatment at John Hunter Children’s Hospital,” Ms Scully said.
“Some families stay with us for 100 days or more, so the cost of purchasing takeaway meals every night is an expensive option for families already under financial strain, and takeaway options are not always healthy.
“We are so grateful to our generous community and the City of Newcastle team for their kind gesture to prepare and deliver quality meals prepared by Executive Chef Mark Rusev. Our beautiful families are doing it extremely tough at the moment and this is just one less problem they have to face, allowing them to focus on supporting their child."