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Nourishing those in need

Wayne Lemon, John Ryan, and Terraze Anderson in the kitchen on the Wednesday Brisbane flooded. Photo by David Nix
EACH WEEK the volunteers who run the Wesley Wednesday Night Community Meal in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley see first hand the value of food.

Providing a three-course meal for 40 to 90 homeless people or those at risk of homelessness each week will do that to you.

Cook, Jeni Parker, said theirs is the only sit-down meal of this type on a Wednesday night in Brisbane.

And she insisted the dinner was a community meal, not a homeless meal.

“We have people who are not homeless,” she said.

“We have people who are living within the city, but by the time they pay their rent they have nothing left.

Occasionally we also have families with young children living in cars,” she said.

An activity of the Wesley Mission Brisbane / Albert Street Uniting Church Servant Network, Ms Parker said the meal is about serving the community.

“The absolute basics of life are simply food and nutrition, community and a roof over your head to sit down and eat when it’s raining,” she said.

“We’re not just providing the basics of food for a week.

It is a good healthy meal.

“I feel that providing the meals for people is a very basic part of what Jesus would do.

“He gathered the people to teach, he knew that they were hungry and he created a massive meal by the grace of his Father, with virtually nothing.

In a sense we follow that very closely.”

Each Tuesday a group visit Foodbank Queensland gathering enough food to feed 100 people.

“We have never not had enough,” said Ms Parker.

Over Christmas and during the Brisbane floods volunteer numbers waned but the community need remained.

“The morning that Brisbane flooded there was discussion between the community meal coordinator, David Nix, and myself and John (the other cook who has been homeless himself and lives much in poverty) as to the safety and the need for the
volunteers to do the community meal during the fl oods,” said Ms Parker.

On advice from John, who said there would be people who would not get fed (perhaps for days) during the floods, the meal went ahead with limited staff .

“Coming in on the train you could see the fl ooding in Rocklea which was already quite apparent at 10am,” said Ms Parker.

“It was really a very eerie experience to come in and do the meal that day.

“To me God’s provision was just amazing.

“Here was the entire city of Brisbane flooding, going under.

“The silence in the city – no movement, no traffic, no nothing – and here we were sitting down to one of the most luxurious
meals you could possibly imagine.

“We fed about 45 people that night.”

Having experienced homelessness himself, John suggested there would be a number of people who would be “too proud” to go to the evacuation centre at the RNA showgrounds for a meal and somewhere to sleep.

“This experience is something that I am very proud to be a part of,” said Ms Parker.

“It is very humbling.”

For more information contact David Nix on 0423 116 174 or dnixwcm@gmail.com


Photo : Wayne Lemon, John Ryan, and Terraze Anderson in the kitchen on the Wednesday Brisbane flooded. Photo by David Nix