For Thérèse Nichols, the idea to harness Australia’s love for eating out and turn it into a force to help those worse off in the world was a direct response to poverty she’d witnessed overseas, The Catholic Weekly reports.
Ms Nichols is the director and co-founder of OnePlate, an organisation which partners with restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars across Australia, who nominate a specific item on their menu to be their OnePlate dish. Each time that item is ordered, $1 is donated to fund sustainable food projects in developing countries.
She will share her story of faith, food and philanthropy at the Australian Catholic Youth Festival (ACYF) in Sydney this December.
Ms Nichols says faith was a pivotal part of her youth in country Victoria, and continues to be so.
￼“For me, God is at the centre of my life,” she says. “My greatest desire is to love him, serve him and love others.”
After graduating from university, Ms Nichols travelled and worked in Europe. Before coming home, she took part in the Emmanuel School of Mission in Rome for a year, an experience she describes as life-changing.
“I absolutely loved it, and really grew in faith, and while I was there I came across a homily from St John Paul II about building the 'civilisation of love',” she says. “That homily really impacted me.”
More study and travel followed before she took up a job with Aid to the Church in Need, an organisation which raises awareness and funds for persecuted Christians around the world.
Two years ago, Ms Nichols took a trip to Manila and spent a month volunteering for a foundation which feeds local street kids. Every Saturday, a small band of dedicated people provide 500 children with a meal, served with love and care.
Sitting in Adoration one day, and contemplating the scale of the poverty, the idea of OnePlate was born.
“So it wasn’t really my idea,” she laughs. “It was definitely the Holy Spirit.”
Launched back home, the idea took off in Melbourne’s eating scene, and now OnePlate’s first funded project – an urban rooftop garden in the Philippines, designed to produce enough food to feed 100 street children – is a reality.
Charity innovator to headline ACYF (The Catholic Weekly)