‘They’re keen as mustard’

‘They’re keen as mustard’

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Armadale Senior High School students Chevelle Brooker, Brie Matthews, Ashleigh Pospisil, Dakota Denham and Toby Holgate alongside teacher Michelle Tilly and principal Carol Daniels. Photograph – Aaron Van Rongen.

Over the last five weeks, Armadale Senior High School’s hospitality students have been working around the clock to prepare hundreds of meals for those in need.

The initiative is part of the 5000meals program, a WA initiative launched by ‘Prepare Produce Provide’ which aims to address food insecurity across Perth and create nutritious meals for the homeless.

Since its inception eight years ago, the initiative has seen tens of thousands of meals delivered to those in need – the majority of which were produced through donations from local growers and suppliers and prepared by volunteers.

Teacher Michelle Tilly said she had always wanted to be part of the initiative, but that it wasn’t until this term that the students’ class schedule allowed for it.

“I’ve always wanted to do it and the opportunity presented itself,” she said.

“The kids prepare the meals across several lessons on a Thursday and are really excited about doing it because it’s about giving back to the community.

“They appreciate the fact that it’s going to local people in need.

“That’s something I was really eager to ensure – that it was going back to our community.

“We had already been running an internal soup program for the last three years, with students cooking free soup for students weekly and donated meals to the Hope Foundation.

“We donate some of the ingredients when necessary, but Prepare Product Provide provides the fresh foods, proteins and packaging.

“It’s certainly something we’ll continue to do because it is part of the curriculum for the Cert 2 in Hospitality.

“I think it’s a great initiative and that’s it’s really good for the students to look outside their own little bubble and give back – they’re keen as mustard.

“It has worked really well – it ticks all the boxes.”

Ms Tilley said the class expected to get to 1000 meals by next term and that the school would continue to participate in the initiative in the coming years.

The school is one of 10 involved in the program, which became an emergency relief service during the COVID-19 pandemic – with 20,000 meals made during lockdown by chefs, apprentices and hospitality workers stood down during the pandemic.

Prepare Produce Provide founder Cath MacDougall said the initiative was about engaging youth and that it was beautiful teachers, like Ms Tilley, that made it work.

The class extended thanks to SecondBite and Linley Valley Pork for its generous donations to the initiative.

For more information, or to find out how you can get involved, visit prepareproduceprovide.org/projects/5000meals/