Food with a Social Conscience Means Guilt-Free Gluttony

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Sep 29, 2017

A Kylie Kwong desk lunch that helps feed people in need? These clever companies combine feasting with philanthropy. By Freya Herring.

Coffee that cares

Love coffee? Of course you do; you’re human. Then check out Melbourne’s Co-Ground Coffee – a roving van-cum-café set up in response to the devastation of Vanuatu after Cyclone Pam hit in 2015. Today, coffee beans are provided by Five Senses, and 100 per cent of the profits go directly to education and livelihood projects in the Asia-Pacific.

Training Day

Char’s Café in Newcastle, New South Wales, is run by Response Services, an organisation dedicated to improving employment possibilities for people with disabilities. Rather than wholly relying on other businesses to train people with disabilities, they’ve opened a café that does just that. Go in for salads, sarnies or a cup of coffee and support these guys in their bid to make the employment sphere a more equal place.

Gin to win

BOSC, which stands for “Bar of Social Conscience”, is a beer and gin bar in Brisbane that hands over a share of its profits to charity. Don’t expect anything less than excellence here: the beers and gins are carefully curated to give you a truly educational – not to mention delicious ­– experience.

Pay what you may

Located throughout Melbourne and in Sydney’s Newtown, the ethos of veggie and vegan restaurant Lentil As Anything is simple: breaking down barriers and building communities. Staff members are volunteers, the long-term unemployed or the marginalised and customers pay what they can afford. Whatever is paid helps keep the project running.

Caring and sharing

At Flavours of Auburn in Sydney, you will find yourself cooking with people from refugee backgrounds, learning the recipes of their native cuisines and then sitting down and sharing the food you’ve made together. From Ethiopian to Iranian, Pakistani and Afghani, it’s a fascinating way to discover new dishes. All proceeds go back into the local community and the project itself, which seeks to connect communities and promote tolerance.

Dinner on the move

Mazí Mas is a pop-up restaurant project that trains and employs long-term unemployed female immigrants and refugees. A not-for-profit, the restaurant is popping up in places like Sydney’s Mecca Cafe and Melbourne’s Saint Lucent ­– just sign up to the site to find out when and where to catch them next.

Two for one

If you want to do a little good in Sydney, check out Table’s events, which include dinners and cooking schools run by some of the city’s best chefs, with all profits going to charity. The group also offers a trailblazing lunch-delivery service called Two Good Co., available in Sydney and Melbourne. For this, the likes of Kylie Kwong and Yotam Ottolenghi have created salad and soup recipes that are made, packaged in jars and delivered to workplaces. For every one sold, another one goes to somebody living in a shelter. Plus, the food is stellar.

Image: Petrina Tinslay

Tucker time

At Aboriginal Bush Traders in Darwin, 100 per cent of the profits go towards supporting Indigenous communities. Pop in to its café at Lyons Cottage on the Esplanade – nearly every dish on the menu features a native ingredient – and check out the shop, which sells ethically sourced Aboriginal arts and crafts.

Oh, Africa

Keen to explore a fascinating cuisine? Mu’ooz Eritrean Restaurant & Catering in Brisbane’s West End dishes up traditional thick meat stews, perfect for mopping up with injera. The eatery also trains and employs female refugees from all parts of the African continent.

Waste not

Millbrook Winery, in the rural town of Jarrahdale, Western Australia, is worth a visit for the scenery alone. But head there at the start of the week and you’ll find yourself part of No Waste Monday, when chefs transform perishable produce left over from their working week into inventive new recipes. Exciting and ethical? Sign us up.

Main image: Flavours of Auburn

SEE ALSO: How to Dine at Australia's Best Restaurants on the Cheap