How to Help: A Beautiful Food Experience

Published on July 9 2019.

Photo: A Beautiful Food Experience event

Looking for a way to do your bit? Whether it's feeding people in need or fighting food waste, How To Help puts the spotlight on worthwhile causes that you can get behind. First up is A Beautiful Food Experience. 

Why we started:
“Every day thousands of us go to cafes and restaurants to eat delicious food, enjoy socialising and to feel connected,” says A Beautiful Food Experience community engagement leader Alischa Ross. “But for many people this simple pleasure is out of reach because of circumstances – age, physical or mental health issues, language barriers, homelessness – that leave them lonely and isolated. We started this project because nothing brings people together like sharing a meal and we believe everyone deserves A Beautiful Food Experience.

“This project is about more than just feeding people. it’s about creating a place where people experiencing loneliness and social isolation know they are welcome and can feel part of their community. We want people to know there is a table and a beautiful meal waiting for them and most importantly friendly faces looking forward to serving them and have a chat, because everyone deserves to feel like that.”

What we do:
“A Beautiful Food Experience is a simple and sustainable model that brings joy to people’s lives by connecting local businesses, creating volunteering opportunities and engaging community services to invite people who would otherwise not have the chance to experience sharing food and conversation in a safe and inviting space. It’s all about community, connections and feeling good.

“Thanks to support from the City of Port Phillip, each month our South Melbourne project puts on a community lunch for up to 100 people experiencing social isolation and loneliness by:

  • Connecting restaurants who want to prepare and donate a few restaurant-quality meals
  • Building volunteering opportunities for locals who want to help
  • Using restaurant spaces to host lunches on non-trading days
  • Inviting local community services to bring their clients along to enjoy an afternoon out

What success looks like for us:
“Our vision is to grow and replicate this model in many local communities. We believe wherever there are restaurants and community services, we can connect them with people needing some joy in their lives.

“This is a scalable model that we believe can revolutionise the way the hospitality industry gives back. We’re making it easy to work together to each do a little bit that is achievable. Preparing an extra 20 meals a month, for instance, or volunteering to help serve a couple of times a year or donating flowers for the tables.

“It's up to each restaurant and volunteer to decide what they bring to the table. We’ll do the rest: coordinating community service bookings, teams of volunteers and contributions from other local businesses.”

How you can help:
“Let’s work together to connect thousands of people experiencing loneliness and isolation and send a message that we’re all welcome to sit at the table, to feel happiness and be included in our communities though the joy of sharing food.”

If you’re a restaurant or cafe:
“We’d love to hear from restaurants and cafes of all sizes interested in hosting or contributing restaurant quality meals towards A Beautiful Food Experience events. The size of your contribution or the day, time, frequency and number of people you’d like to host at each event is up to you. Your business may want to host events in your own space, on a non-trading day, in a dedicated space on a trading day, or partner with other local restaurants to collaborate preparing food and alternating venues.”

If you’re a volunteer:
“If you’d like to volunteer at A Beautiful Food Experience community events we’d love to hear from you. We need volunteers to help with setting up, serving food and most importantly chatting with those attending to help them feel welcome. No experience is required – just a smiling face. We also encourage volunteers who are comfortable in assisting us in interviewing participants so we can capture their stories and measure and share the impact the project has on their lives.

“Right now we have opportunities for volunteers on the third Monday of the month at our South Melbourne lunches. But if this time or location aren’t suitable for you, please register your details nonetheless – we plan to have more locations and times running in the near future.”

If you’re a filmmaker and photographer:
“We’re always looking for filmmakers and photographers who would like to volunteer their time to help document events and capture short digital stories of the beautiful people attending so we can share the impact this project has on their lives.”

If you’re a local council:
“Councils play a vital role in helping us build strong and lasting connections with local community services. A Beautiful Food Experience offers local councils an evidence-based model that can help improve and complement other diversity and inclusion initiatives. If you work for a local council and would like to talk to us about what’s involved in getting A Beautiful Food Experience up and running in your local area please connect with us.”

Want to learn more about A Beautiful Food Experience? Get in touch with Alischa Ross, its leader of community engagement, on or 0413 351 488, or visit