Women in need helped by University Soup Kitchen


What started as a small fundraiser for Macarthur women in need has swelled to a regular event that unites students, academics and executives from Western Sydney University around a hot bowl of soup.

The Centre for Health Research Soup Kitchen is a fortnightly event held at the Campbelltown campus, where staff members sell home-made soup and toast to raise funds for women's services.

All the money made from the event is donated to Brand New Day, a local charity made up of volunteers who believe all females deserve to be safe, well and happy; whether they are managing life's challenges or in crisis trying to rebuild their lives.

The fundraising drive is the brainchild of Melinda Wolfenden, the Manager of the Centre for Health Research, and is sponsored by Camden Fruit Barn, which donates vegetables for the soup.

"The inspiration came last winter, during a time when domestic violence was receiving saturation media coverage," she says.

"I wanted to help, but given my tight household budget I had to adopt a 'fishes and loaves' approach to turning the $25 a fortnight I had to spare into something more substantial. And so the Soup Kitchen was born."

Over time, Melinda gathered a small band of volunteers who donated two slow cookers for the soup kitchen and helped purchase and prepare the food. The menu slowly expanded, with vegetable soup now supplemented by casseroles and curries.

In six months, the Kitchen has raised well over a thousand dollars, proving that small gestures and community spirit can make a difference to those in need.

Therese Easter from Brand New Day Services says the money raised will be used to support their Project Bluebird initiative, providing essential items such as crisis toiletry bags, cleaning and washing products, underwear and basic kitchen appliances.

"The money will help us provide everyday items many of us take for granted, and deliver outreach workshops for women, mothers and their families who currently find themselves struggling," she says.

Melinda has plans to extend Soup Kitchen fundraisers to Centre for Health Research network events and the School of Medicine.


7 June 2016

Mark Smith - Senior Media Officer

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