At Bendigo Foodshare we offer two Cooking for Change programs – one for schools and one for corporate groups. During these corporate sessions, teams of around nine participants work with an experienced cook to dish up 100-150 healthy and nutritious meals. These dishes are then frozen to maintain freshness and put back into food relief and distributed through our partner organisations. When recipients of food relief receive these meals they can heat, eat and enjoy a balanced meal with minimal effort.

We were delighted to receive a heartwarming and enthusiastic email from a recipient of one of these meals. Grace was thrilled when she received a hearty chickpea and roast pumpkin tagine with rice in her food hamper from Bendigo Family and Financial Services. This meal was made during a Cooking for Change Corporate session with the Mount Alexander Shire Council, where the participants managed to cook 150 meals that were then used as food relief.

Grace mentioned that it made her feel good emotionally, psychologically, physically and spiritually and requested the recipe for it so that she can make it herself at home. As someone with Italian heritage, Grace mentioned that she had been missing her Nonna’s food and this meal helped her remember and reconnect with that aspect of her life.

As a food relief organisation, we understand that accessing food relief can be difficult, and while we are trying to break the stigma associated with it, many still feel ashamed to ask for the necessary help, Grace hopes that by sharing her story she can inspire others to reach out for assistance when they need it.

A copy of Grace’s email can be seen below, her emotion and gratefulness are evident, but what stands out the most to us is her positive outlook, even though she has been thrown into a difficult situation, she is optimistic about her future and has now re-found her love for cooking through the meal and recipes that she received.

Delicious pumpkin and chickpea casserole recipe

Grace’s email

Recently I accessed and received a food parcel from one of your partners Bendigo Family & Financial Services.

I had your Pumpkin & mixed vegetable tagine with chickpeas and golden turmeric rice. I cannot say enough how tasty, fulfilling and good for the soul and spirit your Foodshare meals are. Filled with nutrition and taste. Being of Italian descent also I am familiar with chickpeas but never like this and tasting so good.

Your recipe formulations are just so good and superb with bringing this recipe to life. 

The use of chickpeas also as a source of protein and use of vegetable incredibly nutritious and ample too to fill nutrient requirements for oneself and use of being able to make an incredibly tasty meal with using minimal amounts of vegetables in dish and use of herbs and spices and tumeric and rice to create outstanding nutritious tasty meals, it is created with the balance of abundance using less amounts making more accessible to serve and feed more people in need.

I would absolutely love to buy to have as my weekly meals and will make do with your ingredient listing to do for myself and hope to come close to replicating your dish.

I also had a vegetable type soup also outstanding in same meal offering you do with Cooking for Change.

I know how important meals are for looking forward to coming home and enjoying a tasty home cooked style meals cooked from the heart.

The underlying and surfacing importance of your meals means you feel good, you feel okay, your body is responding to both the taste, the nutrition and the beautiful visual appeal of your meals.

This means you think better, also in social situations, home life, work and life in general, communicating and going about one’s life, in a better frame of mind.  Especially anyone getting behind the wheel of a car, operating machinery, looking after oneself and others as just being in a good state having those food and nutrition needs met also bringing relief, thankfulness, dignity, joy and light also.

Your Cooking for Change is so on the ball with fulfilling nutritional tasty meals for all ages I hope much more support gets behind it to truly support our fellow citizens in Bendigo and surrounding regions and I hope expanded and made more accessible for giving all the joy and relief and taste and nutrition one needs to make good decisions and nurture bodies and minds.

My Nonna would have been so wanting to have used your recipe for this chickpea dish as she always cooked with love, loved cooking, always open to new ideas and knew the value of food having known the fear and deprivation of being without and with a young family to feed so food was central to her life and she knew the important value it had in bringing people together also.  No one ever had to be asked twice to come over for meals.

Your people involved with the recipe making, chopping the food and cooking and making from delivery and packaging all done with incredible dignity and knowledge and work and from your amazing volunteers to bring respect, dignity and self-worth to people experiencing food insecurity and meeting nutritional needs.

Your meals fill all the needs required for health on all scales.

I loved the sustainable and beautiful curved design of the cardboard type packaging receiving and so useful too with storing in fridge if need be.  The serving size portion was satisfying too, and I felt so good for hours afterwards having been without for a short period. I  realise and understand the importance and gravity and necessity of what you do.

I have said much but overall want to provide a full picture of what you created and do for others, it is truly life giving.

I will attempt to make the chickpea recipe myself and know it won’t quite be the same but with practice I hopefully will get there!

With sincerest and highest regards,