Mental Health Foundation Australia

Mental Health Foundation Australia’s 45000 Free Meals Delivery

Mental Health Foundation of Australia led by Vasan Srinivasan and his deputy Jim Goodin has been helping the Victorian community’s needy ever since we were faced with COVID-19 pandemic.

Under Vasan’s leadership, the group has shown exponential growth and its membership and reach has expanded throughout the length and breadth of our multicultural society. While other groups or organizations with bigger profiles – like Beyondblue and Headspace get credit for what they do, this humble organization which is the oldest of its type in Australia – established in 1930 – gets dwarfed by those biggies even when it has been doing a spectacular service to the Victorian community. The group – Mental Health Foundation Australia or MHFA – needs credit for it does and funding – a lot more of it – so that it can deliver on its noble vision and serve those in our community who do need its services.

When lockdown 1.0 was imposed on Melbourne, the organization – put its hand up and took up to feeding those in need and continued throughout the first lockdown. Feeding the international students – who were suddenly in dire straits – and the needy of our local community – the MHFA managed – without any local government funding help to deliver 8800 meals – contributed by volunteers, helpers and friends of the MHFA.

With lockdown 2.0, and just before that, the group saw some other issues that required frontline intervention and fixing. When the government locked down hotspot postcodes and high-rise towers – there were complaints of inappropriate food being delivered and some people going without food for 24 hours or more. MHFA immediately got its team together and planned to help deliver to the needy – culturally appropriate vegetarian meals every day averaging 800-1000 meals/day.

According to Vasan Srinivasan, the group is hoping to achieve a huge milestone of delivering 45,000 meals to the needy by the end of the month when their second stint at food delivery completes.

To make such a herculean task possible, MHFA has Ambassadors  from South African, Italian, Afghanistan, Mexican, Japanese, Croatian, Indonesia, Srilankan, Malaysiaa and Indian communities coming together to cook and pack those meals for distribution.

To help MHFA, a good Samaritan – CEO of the Imperial College of Australia Mr Param Jaswal, has handed over his Commercial Cookery College industrial infrastructure in Oakleigh South – for MHFA’s free use every day.

And magnanimity is supplemented with his in person support and contribution every Sunday (and whenever else possible) when many volunteers come to chip in with their time and labour contribution.

Karan Gandhok of Tandoori Junction fame and a food connoisseur par excellence has been time on ground to deliver quality control and logistics.

Many other members of the Indian community – Sunny Duggal, Payara Singh Pathania, Parveen, Adarsh, Shamby,  Alidad Hussaini Harish Karan, Samantha, Mrs Thanuda Nagodavithana, Harlin, Parveen Kumar, Randeep and to Babu Ram from Saravanabhavan Restaurant to name only a few.

Other volunteers include  Philasande, Stephanie, Katlego, Nthabiseng and Martin Krivosija, Sylvia Jeong, Carmela Nankervis, Yasuko Matsumoto Gould and Santi Whiteside.

Two other volunteers who have been tireless and contributed hugely to this project are Stephen Yin and Bruce Wong (CEO Foot Solutions). Foot Solutions donated the delivery van, a huge help in delivering meals.

The group has managed to garner community support but needs the local government to support its initiatives. On Sunday, 30 August, volunteers – from various communities – not just Indian – appealed to the state government to provide funding support for its on-going services to the community.

(clockwise): Vasan Srinivasan, Param Jaswal, Karan Gandhok, Bruce Wong, Sunny Duggal, Stephen Yin and Ali Afghani.

      -with inputs by Dinesh Malhotra

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