Usually I would be talking about sustainability in the area of single use plastics, sustainable energy sources, and generally practices which will improve our footprint on this planet. This post is about the Fremantle Street Kitchen and tent city, where I have cooked a couple of meals and volunteered a couple of times. Per the previous post, it’s a totally community supported and funded initiative, with no source of monetary income to support the approximately 100 people living in the tent city and relying on the food provided by the community.
I was hesitant about the wisdom of the concept when I started volunteering, and my cautions haven’t been alleviated. Today, I met a volunteer who was so tired she was nearly incoherent after three night shifts in a row; she’s a retired nurse and feels the clear and endless need for her skillset in that community. There was not quite enough food for breakfast, everyone got cereal if they wanted and coffee or tea, but the bacon and eggs ran out early. The food chiller was much more empty than my previous trip, and there is a shortage of volunteers.
The most interesting part of today’s shift for me was working with some of the people who are living in the camp, who were working effectively and keeping the place pretty clean and tidy. However, a disturbance broke out when a homeless guy, not living in the tent city, came up for breakfast and was denied food by one of the tent city guys. The separation of ‘us’ and ‘them’ is already entrenched; the intent and mission of the kitchen is to feed everyone who is homeless, not only those who are living in the tent city. As someone donating my time and small amounts of grocery money, I am not interested in supporting a subset of the homeless community. My support is more inclusive than that.
The State government has turned off the water supply to the camp. I suspect this is to try to force people back into the already established services, but is there enough temporary accomodation available for all the people living in the tent city and on the streets of Fremantle ? The water is now back on, with temperatures reaching 35C during the day it’s not really optional.
And going back to sustainability, how sustainable for the planet is it, to be using disposable cutlery and plates for say 100 people, for 3 meals a day ?
All photographs from https://www.facebook.com/freostreetkitchen/posts/112844200716829, please do have a look for more input as everything I state above is my own opinion. I will continue to volunteer time and effort, as this experience is both meeting an immediate community need, and broadening my very privileged horizons.