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Secret ingredient helps fill the parish freezer

Gippsland Grammar students and Bairnsdale’s St John’s Anglican Church parishioners have come together to cook meals for needy locals – it’s a new project that goes beyond teaching the young students skills in the kitchen, it’s teaching kindness, service, community and giving to others. And, in this case, there appears to be a secret ingredient … love.

Head of Bairnsdale Campus Virginia Evans said it had been an absolute joy to help create this program, further fostering relationships within our community.

“It fills us all with happiness and a sense of connection to others,” she said. “We love that we are able to transform our humble garden ingredients into wholesome meals to help fill the parish freezer and support vulnerable locals.”

Each Friday students and volunteers from the Parish can be found foraging the school garden and orchard, along with collecting eggs from the chickens before cooking up a storm in the kitchen and delivering meals to the freezer.

Year 1 student Emma (centre) in the kitchen with (from left to right) parish volunteers Linda Davies and Sandra McMaster and fellow students Ayla and Omar, both Year 5.

Linda Davies, one of the volunteers from St John’s Anglican Church, described the experience as a ‘privilege’.

“It's a privilege more than anything,” she said. “To pass on skills to others.”

These are life skills.

Linda said she enjoyed learning about the students’ interests and often found herself encouraging the youngsters to ‘have a go’ and if it doesn’t work ‘try something else’.

“I never knew what I wanted to do [when I left school] but the gifts and skills I have acquired over the years have really paid benefits back, not only to me but for a lot of other people in the community.

“When you enjoy doing something there’s always a secret ingredient … and that is love.

“You love doing it and it’s not necessary for yourself but for someone else and that’s paying it forward.”

Year 5 student Ayla Buckley said she found cooking for other people enjoyable and meaningful.

“It is nice to think about how we are helping our community by just cooking a few meals such as puttanesca and orange cake. It made me grateful for having three meals to eat every day.”

Gippsland Grammar calls the program the Giving Garden Project, lending a hand all year around. It is supported by the School’s Lorna Sparrow Fellowship awarded by Gippsland Grammar Foundation.