New $1.1 million kitchen brings community together

New $1.1 million kitchen brings community together

Braeside Hospital’s new $1.1 million fresh food kitchen was officially opened by Fairfield Mayor Frank Carbone today (October 8), beginning the next phase in a remarkable south-west Sydney story of community cooperation and a commitment to better food for vulnerable patients.

Operator of the hospital since 2008, HammondCare, identified the need to increase the range and quality of meals particularly given the cultural diversity of patients, many of whom are older and require longer stays.Braeside Hospital was built without an operational kitchen, limiting the freshness and range of meals for palliative care, rehabilitation and mental health patients.

Local response 'overwhelming'

With no access to government funding for the project, HammondCare sought community support to build a state-of-the-art fresh food kitchen and has been overwhelmed with the response.

To date, more than $415,000 has been raised and although the fundraising continues, HammondCare decided to end delays for improved food service and undertook construction of the kitchen, which has recently begun operation.

HammondCare’s Head of Health and Hospitals, Stewart James, said continuing to serve reheated meals was no longer an option, regardless of the cost.

Fresh cooked meals every day

“HammondCare’s food culture across its health and aged care services is to provide freshly cooked meals, high in nutrition, using the best ingredients, and maximising choice,” Mr James said. “Many of our patients were born overseas and when you are unwell, and recovering in hospital, being able to enjoy culturally relevant food is vital.

“That’s why we have passionately pursued this project for the benefit of patients and are deeply grateful for the way the community of south-west Sydney has got behind it.

“We all know food is a great way to bring people together, and that is certainly the case with the Braeside kitchen.

“A wide range of community groups including Rotary and Lions, Chinese associations, Vietnamese community groups, the Italian community, schools, council, businesses and charitable foundations have all supported us and continue to.

“Food service has begun from the new kitchen and we are very pleased with the positive impact it is having on patients’ wellbeing, including those recovering from serious trauma and others who are facing their last days.”

More than 150 invited guests, many representing the local community, are expected to be present as Mayor Frank Carbone officially opens the new kitchen from 4pm on October 8.

Food, music and community support

In the meantime, fundraising continues with two major community events on soon.

The 22nd International Chinese Cantonese Opera Cultural Festival (Sydney) hosted by the S.H.L.K. Chinese Opera soon to donate proceeds towards the kitchen project. The opera cultural festival will be held at Marana Auditorium, 16 MacMahon Street, Hurstville on October 31 and November 1 from 11.45am.

And this weekend (October 10, 11) the Taste of Asia event in Cabramatta will raise funds for the kitchen. The event will showcase a fusion of signature Asian dishes with live jazz entertainment and would include cooking demonstrations, cultural recipe workshops, herb garden displays and delicious tastings for the whole family. For a gold coin donation participants will be able to sample foods from restaurants across Cabramatta, with all funds to go toward the Braeside Hospital fresh cook kitchen project.