Small change makes big difference to kids

Demand for cooked meals at Limestone Coast schools to feed hungry schoolchildren is increasing, but a local charity headed by a hardworking and resourceful small businessperson aims to meet the challenge. You may have heard of Spare ya Change 4 Kids. And with nearly 140 people registered as volunteers for the Mount Gambier-based charity, chances are you’re one of the people involved in it.

Spare ya Change currently cooks around 50 meals per week for four primary schools on the Limestone Coast, producing around 380 to 400 cooked meals for schoolchildren. But according to Spare ya Change director Don Pratt (pictured), demand for cooked meals at schools is increasing. His charity is up for the challenge – provided it has enough space to hold all the meals.

“Success to us is that we no longer have to provide our service, but that does not look likely for quite some time,” Mr Pratt told The SE Voice. Within a five-hour shift, Spare ya Change’s volunteers produce up to 400 meals, enough to supply four schools for a week. Each of these schools take roughly 50 meals per week from Spare ya Change, with the number of meals determined by each school’s wellbeing coordinators.

Currently, the meals are either brought to the schools by Foodbank or by the charity. But Mr Pratt, who heads café ConfessionHQ, Confession Catering and a painting business, believes the charity could “easily” produce at least 800 cooked meals in a full day of volunteer work. The charity, which receives fresh produce and buys canned goods from Foodbank, aims to return to serving nine schools in the region within the next few weeks after supplying that many in 2020 – and to eventually serve another 11 schools, taking its total to 21 schools.

Mr Pratt said Spare ya Change is ready to increase its operations after receiving a shot in the arm from a benefactor and a Stand Like Stone grant, which have made life easier for the charity, for now. And with 138 people registered as volunteers for Spare ya Change, it’s less of an issue getting people involved in cooking the meals: The tough part, Mr Pratt says, is giving them a fair go at volunteering for the charity, which began some four years ago.

Mr Pratt believes his charity had gained a following as more people became aware of the issue.. “There are so many children that are going to school hungry,” Mr Pratt said. “And not only going to school hungry, but are coming back home to nothing to eat.”

Spare ya Change 4 Kids currently cooks and stores its meals frozen at Italo Australian Club. While most meals are given to schools, Spare ya Change additionally supplies around 50 meals per week to the Mount Gambier Foodbank Hub where they can be purchased by those in need of them.

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