As a trained physiotherapist, former hospital manager and with experience in governance, risk management, strategy and planning, Cathie Steele was never going to simply retire quietly. In 2014, when Cathie was looking to put her energy, experience and skills to use as a volunteer, she noticed an article in the paper about a food relief organisation that was starting up in Bendigo – so she picked up the phone to find out more.  

Nine years as the Chair of the Board later, Cathie reflects on what drew her to Bendigo Foodshare all those years ago, “I’d always thought that when I retired, I wanted to do something that’s a win for everyone rather than be working in any area where it’s win for some, but there’s always people who lose out.”  

“I think Bendigo Foodshare does offer a win for everyone. I don’t see any downsides. It’s a win for the people who are moving (what was their) waste, like a supermarket. We are recycling in effect, actually redirecting a waste stream for humans. It’s a win for people who work and volunteer here because they’re doing something good for everyone. And it’s a win for the people who receive the food relief because they need something.”

Cathie has been an integral force at Bendigo Foodshare and has led with passion and purpose through early challenges, highs and lows, and lean and abundant times. She has helped shape our organisation to what it is today. 

Even after 9 years, Cathie is still in awe of what a generous and giving local community we have in Bendigo – from the Y service clubs who we work with every year for the Mobile Christmas Food Pantry, to generous donors like the Hazeldene family and the local businesses that have supported our operations from early on like Viatek and Bendigo Telco, “We’re just so lucky, it’s absolutely brilliant what a great community we have.”     

Although Cathie’s time on the Bendigo Foodshare Board has now come to an end in 2023, she will remain an advocate for our cause in her new role as Chair of the Regional Food Security Alliance, which has the aim of strengthening Victoria’s regional Foodshare organisations.