St Vincent de Paul Society Victoria has opened an innovative new kitchen with state-of-the-art cooking facilities able to produce 60 litres of soup or pasta servings in minutes to feed vulnerable people in Melbourne.
The new Inner City Soup Van hub, based in Kensington, will be serving hot food throughout the coming winter to people in need in the CBD and on the streets of the inner-city to answer an increase in demand due to rising costs of living.
The recent near-record inflation rise to 5.1 per cent and data showing food prices are surging and almost half of low-income renters are experiencing rental stress reflect the growing need that Vinnies has seen on the street for some time.
The demand for Soup Vans doubled during COVID to 550,000 meals a year at all eight Melbourne hubs – and is still rising.
The “super kitchen” facility amalgamates the former Collingwood and Fitzroy hubs. It is believed to be the first of its kind fitted out inside two reconditioned shipping crates, one housing a commercial-size cooker and oven, and the other holding a cool room and storage areas.
The project is the joint brainchild of the late state Soup Van president Leo Holt – who set up the Collingwood run in 1998 and died during a volunteer shift in 2021 – and Vinnies’ GM of membership and special works Sarah Cromie.
“It is exciting to launch the hub after two years of planning and production, and of course, Leo’s sad death. He would have been so proud of what we’ve achieved,” Ms Cromie said. The cooking facility will be called "Leo’s Kitchen".
The Inner City Soup Van hub will serve 400,000 meals annually to thousands of individuals and families experiencing homelessness or struggling to afford food.
Vinnies launches new super kitchen Soup Van hub to serve 400,000 a year as people ‘desperate for food’ in inner city Melbourne (St Vincent de Paul Society Victoria)