Commercial kitchen finally approved

Nat and Jeff_small

Time to celebrate 

As far as the Aged Care team is concerned it’s time to celebrate. After years of begging, it looks like Natalie Quall the cook and Jeff Smith the kitchenhand won’t be cooking for Meals on Wheels in the tiny staff kitchen anymore because funding for a commercial kitchen has finally been approved. Break out the party poppers!

“Since moving to Coconut Grove, we’ve been applying for any and every grant that we could think of to get a commercial kitchen. We’ve been hitting the Department of Health up as well” says Michelle McCall the Aged Care & Disability Program Manager who has made a campaign of ringing the Department every week since 2018 to explain how badly they need a new kitchen.

This journey started with Marcus 

This story starts back in the 2018 wet season when Larrakia Nation Aged Care was on Bagot Community. Marcus hit and eight big trees blew over destroying the building. The team quickly had to find a way to keep doing the Meals on Wheels business without a kitchen.

Aged Care moved into the building where Larrakia Nation is now, on Dickward Drive in Coconut Grove. Solution found; the downside is the kitchen is tiny. Since then, Natalie and Jeff have been cooking up to 150 hot meals a day in a kitchen smaller than your average home kitchen.

Funding finally came 

In August last year Michelle applied for Aboriginal Benefit Account (ABA) funding for a commercial kitchen and continued to pester the Department for money.

In March Michelle was told by ABA that she was successful in getting the grant for a new commercial kitchen and then two weeks later she was told by the Department she was successful in getting money for a kitchen from them too. When it rains it pours hey?

“It’s a bit surreal because it has been a massive fight and now that we have two funding approvals, we’re scared we’re going to lose half of it” explains Michelle.

The CEO Robert Cooper is in negotiations now about how both funding buckets can be kept and used to build a fully equipped commercial kitchen or as Michelle puts it ‘a you beaut kitchen’.

Services will double

Regardless of how negotiations go with the two funding bodies, a new kitchen is a sure thing, and will expand the Aged Care services at Larrakia Nation.

Michelle believes client numbers will double easily. “We’re turning people away because of our limitations on the kitchen. The new kitchen will mean that we can double straight up the amount of people that we provide care and meals to”.

Natalie the cook believes “it’s going to be a big change for our mob because it’s going to open up variety and choice for our elders”.

Catering will feature too  

Catering will be another exciting outcome of the new kitchen and a way to bring income into the organisation.

“We get hit up all the time to do catering, but we can’t do it because we don’t have the facilities. CDU, Stolen Gen, Government Departments, there are heaps of them asking” explains Natalie.

“We can cater for things like the kids program out in Palmerston or events or meetings, there are a lot of people asking all the time about our catering services”.

Same site different place 

The new kitchen will be on the Larrakia Nation site, out the back of the main building or on the side of the yard where the sheds are now.