the power of eating up
In an effort to prevent countless school-aged children from going hungry, not-for-profit organisation Eat Up, provides nutritious and delicious sandwiches to kids who would otherwise go without. When COVID-19 struck earlier this year, the company’s ability to handmake thousands of sandwiches was temporarily sidelined but provided an opportunity to create an alternative option – the Emergency Food Box. Founder Lyndon Galea spoke to us about the importance of feeding hungry bellies, what it means to include nudie juice in each box, and how he’s been able to pivot his business during an extraordinarily difficult year.
how did eat up first begin and what has the journey been like for you all?
Eat Up is very much a grass roots initiative, which started on my mum’s kitchen table in Shepparton. Certainly, at the core of what we do are these big scale volunteer sandwich making events and helping kids with lunches at schools. We work with really large groups of volunteers who are hands on and make sandwiches for us every day. Of course, we can’t do that at the moment, so we’ve had to switch what we’re doing during this period, and be agile, so now we’re providing emergency food boxes to families in need.
how did the idea of the emergency food box come to life?
It was brought about by talking directly to teachers, schools and parents during that first initial lockdown that we had in late March and learning more about the best ways we could support kids and their families during that time. Thankfully we’ve been able to work quite quickly to create the food boxes which are filled with fresh fruit, veggies, bread, pastas, and of course nudie juices.
do you plan on continuing the emergency food boxes once you’re able to get back to making sandwiches?
The need for lunch and sandwiches, and our need to service that has been really clear, so I see that coming back but I don’t see the emergency food boxes disappearing completely either. The response, the feedback and the need they’re filling has been really powerful. We usually drop off the fresh sandwiches we make to schools in bulk in a three-week supply. The volume fluctuates from school to school based on their needs, and then the schools freeze those sandwiches, which gives control back to the teachers to be able to identify the kids and distribute the sandwiches as needed. The boxes however have been filled with enough food to last a longer period than just a day, and we know families are also taking them home, so I see us dropping the boxes off in the final weeks of term in the future, to provide a means of support and respite over the school break.
we felt privileged to donate 2856 tropical kids fruit juices to be used in the boxes – have the kids been enjoying their lunches?
It’s been a huge boost to the kids. Especially with an item like a nudie juice. It’s something everyone identifies with and really loves. A lot of the kids probably see their mates with those juices in the school yard too, so to have something they recognise, they want, is nutritious and can be taken with them while they’re playing at school? I think they’ve been especially well received. You guys approached us via our website, which was amazing. It shows the tremendous character of the company and that you’re thinking of these causes. I love nudie juice and am a big fan myself, so we were really excited you were able to pass these products onto the kids.
is there a way everyday people can get involved in eat up?
Yes, absolutely. We are community led and have large volunteering events where people can join in – from the general public to businesses or families. In time we’d love to see people come back to those events and help us make our sandwiches. It’s important. We want to try to make a difference to the lives of these kids… it gives them a bit of a lift in a moment when they really need it.