By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Transit soup kitchen in Narre Warren is as successful as any enterprise – just on customer growth alone.
“Come to me if you need advice,” Transit’s pastor Keith Vethaak told a forum at Narre Warren Region Business Group.
At Transit, demand is ever-growing. At last count, 1400 people were getting fed each week by the kitchen’s volunteers, Mr Vethaak said.
Another growth niche is for a showers and clothes washing service that visits each week. Casey is the service’s busiest area in greater Melbourne, Mr Vethaak said.
“A lot of people live in cars, a lot of people live in tents and boarding houses where there’s nowhere to wash their clothes.”
Families with school-aged children are another growth trend. Often they’re referred to Transit by schools – when they notice children without breakfast and lunch.
They can pick up about $150 of groceries, including fresh produce picked up from the region’s farms by Mr Vethaak.
He tells of a working parent who has no money left for his kids’ lunch but for a bare slice of bread.
“It’s really tough out there,” Mr Vethaak says as he thanks Narre Warren Region Business Group for $500 towards the cause.
Meanwhile, the next guest speaker Shelley Flett, of Narre Warren, highlights the importance of relationships and connection with staff.
Ms Flett grew up on a dairy farm and orchard, worked in corporate banking then forged a new direction as a self-employed consultant and author of The Direction Dilemma.
Growing a better culture at work took time, just like growing an orange tree, she said.
Staff need to have the courage and trust to say if they think you’re making the wrong move.
“If staff just nod and say yes, then you’re missing other valuable insights.”