August 26, 2013
The Settlement Services International Community Kitchen, established this month in Ryde for new asylum seeker arrivals, is a place to nourish the body and the soul.
Sydney chef and café owner Luigi De Luca today prepared a delicious Persian-inspired lunch for SSI clients.
The Community Kitchen initiative is part cooking class, part social outing for up to 100 asylum seekers living in the community.
Each week a different chef or group of cooks holds a cooking class and, with the help of his assistants, cooks for the guests. Other participating chefs have included Tony Sharpe, Sue Dahman and, in Week 5, it will be the turn of the of the Country Women’s Association.
Today Luigi was helped in the kitchen by 10 SSI clients who enjoyed learning basic cooking and nutritional tips. The SSI clients who participated are in Australia seeking asylum, and currently living in the community supported by the Federal Government’s Community Assistance Scheme. Most are not entitled to seek employment and receive less than the Newstart allowance, which can be challenging.
The Community Kitchen is aimed at providing a social day out where clients, many of whom experience isolation, can learn from a professional how to prepare a healthy and nutritious meal, as well as interacting with other community members and case managers by playing a game of soccer, watching a movie, or playing cards and chess.
The initiative is also proving to be an innovative way for SSI case managers to consult with their clients and provide valuable information on living in Sydney outside an office setting and in a more relaxed and social environment.
Likewise, it has provided an opportunity for ethnic and mainstream community groups and leaders to participate in the event and engage with the new arrivals.
SSI Regional & Community Engagement Coordinator Trina Soulos said the idea of the community kitchen arose after SSI decided to look at ways to counteract the negative public discourse around asylum seekers by developing initiatives that are humane and practical.
“We believe that the SSI Community Kitchen has successfully achieved this goal, and due to its success, what began as a pilot will now continue as a regular event,” said Ms Soulos.
SSI is currently seeking sponsors to ensure the Community Kitchen continues to provide not only healthy meals that nourish the body, but the equally important nourishment of the soul that comes with the experience of feeling welcome.
Media Contact: Angela Calabrese 0401 284 828