Bendigo Foodshare is excited to launch their latest community project, Café for a Day.  The project, created in partnership with Healthy Heart of Victoria, Kangaroo Flat Community House, Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services’ and  Hoo-gah Cafe is a fun, inclusive and free initiative connecting young people (aged 15-24) living in Kangaroo Flat and surrounding areas with local chefs. Participants will learn the art of cooking, healthy eating and gain hospitality skills through preparing and selling a meal from a café space. Thanks to Yo Bendigo, all participants will have the chance to complete an accredited Food Handling course free of charge.

Hoo-gah Café and the Salvation Army Gravel Hill kitchen have come on board as the two pop-up spaces for the program. Throughout a day-long session, participants will learn to cook recipes designed by the leading chefs; Gina Triolo (Hoo-gah) and Jason Newton (Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services’ Friday Food Safari) including  rice paper rolls, curry and handmade ricotta  gnocchi.  The meals will be sold using a “donate what you can” model, ensuring all guests have access to a healthy lunch regardless of their financial situation.  Proceeds from the sale of the meals will be donated to local charities; Kangaroo Flat Community House, Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services and Bendigo Foodshare.

Gina Triolo, Manager of Hoo-gah said, ‘’I was very keen to get involved in the Cafe for a Day initiative because I believe it is vital to start educating people from a young age about the importance of healthy cooking and eating. I have always found that people are much more inclined to eat well if they prepare and cook for themselves and especially so with younger age groups. If you can create a learning environment that has an element of fun involved in regard to meal prep they will almost eat anything. I find it really rewarding teaching these kind of life skills to the age group that need it the most.”

Through a hands-on, innovative social experience, participants will learn problem solving, time management and community service experience as they work as a team in a real hospitality environment. From connecting with local chefs and business owners, participants will pick up valuable work-related tips they can place on their resume.

Bendigo Foodshare’s Youth Project Officer Sam Kane said the project was funded to support secondary schools and young people in the Kangaroo Flat area, and would give participants hospitality and food experience from well-known local chefs.

“We know young people are looking for new ways to learn skills related to food, hospitality and retail to prepare them for work and their future – and Café for a Day provides just that,” Sam said.

“This initiative is something new and fun, connecting food and practical, real-life experience to young people. We can’t wait.”

Alicia O’Brien, Coordinator, Healthy Heart of Victoria said “The 2019 Active Living Census highlighted that one in 10 households in Greater Bendigo are food insecure, and that only one in eight adults meet daily vegetable consumption guidelines. The findings also showed that Kangaroo Flat residents eat less fruit than the Greater Bendigo average.”

“Healthy Heart of Victoria is delighted to be funding the Café for a Day project to provide an opportunity for local youth, especially those from the Kangaroo Flat area, to improve their cooking knowledge and skills, promoting a positive change towards ongoing healthy cooking and eating habits.”

People can register for the free experience at

This program is supported by Bendigo Foodshare, Healthy Heart of Victoria, Hoo-gah café, Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services’ Friday Food Safari, Kangaroo Flat Community House, and Yo Bendigo.