It’s tucker time on Monday nights

Sale Central Rotary Club’s Monday Tucker group has big plans for 2017. Pictured (from left), Eddie Graham, Andrew Bradley, and Marianne Abbey preparing Monday’s meal.

Sale Central Rotary Club’s Monday Tucker group has big plans for 2017. Pictured (from left), Eddie Graham, Andrew Bradley, and Marianne Abbey preparing Monday’s meal.

AFTER being awarded Wellington Shire's community group of the year for 2017, Sale's Monday Tucker program has big plans for the year ahead.

Started by Sale Central Rotary Club in 2012, the weekly event feeds about 70 people every Monday night.

Anyone is welcome, with a free hot meal cooked up by volunteers, fresh fruit, and good company.

Organiser Andrew Bradley said all sorts of people showed up, including young families, disadvantaged youth, widowers and widows.

"It seems like a simple thing, just to cook up a meal for people, but it seems to capture everyone's interest," he said.

"We don't delve into their backgrounds, we're really working to make this a safe space for them where they're not judged."

Michael Page, another organiser, said it was important to provide support for vulnerable people, and this was a direct way to make an impact.

"We've solicited all the agencies, social workers at the hospital, clinics, police, they all refer people to come down," he said.

"We've had kids come up wanting to know what 'these' are, meaning carrots or potatoes. "

Mr Bradley said Monday Tucker was sometimes the first time children had sat a table with cutlery and plates, and was a good way to teach table manners.

"I'll never forget, once we had a little girl, we had some strawberries donated to us, and one of our volunteers cut them up, and we made strawberries and cream for dessert, and the little girl came up, she ate all the cream and left the strawberries. She said "they didn't taste like strawberries," because they're used to strawberry flavouring," he said.

Every week, food is donated from the community, and from Second Bite, which distributes supermarket produce that is close to its sell-by date to charities across Victoria.

A team of volunteers then prepares meals for anyone who walks in the door at the Memorial Hall.

While Mr Bradley and Mr Page are Rotarians, both are keen to encourage the community to take ownership of Monday Tucker, so the club can start doing even more.

The SEED community garden project, near Lake Guyatt, has already received $10,000 in federal funding and youth camp initiatives for kids from difficult family environments are being planned.

"The club is keen to do something in the family violence area, so we took some of their ideas back to the police and they gave feedback on the gaps they find," Mr Bradley said.

"A lot (of youth) come to Monday Tucker and have other problems, and eight times out of 10 it's because they've had a rough family background."

"We used to run a program called GoYouth, taking kids up to Licola, we focused on kids with low self-esteem and confidence to build up their leadership skills," Mr Page said.

"At one of the meetings, police indicated they're very concerned, because they're getting a lot of family violence cases from kids in grade six or even grade five, so we're in the process of reprogramming that program, so principals can select kids that they know who are having trouble at home."

Another proposal is the Wild4 program, where youths who have run into trouble with the police, and may be close to incarceration, are taken to the High Country for a week of activities and hiking.

"They did one just prior to Christmas, and there's indications that those kids have gone back to TAFE or schooling, one joined the Army Cadets," Mr Page said.

Monday Tucker runs every Monday from 5pm at the Sale Memorial Hall's supper room, and is open to anyone.

To volunteer, phone Sale Central Rotary Club on 0458 006 040, or 0412 331 946 (volunteers must hold a Working with Children Check).

"If you want to come, show up, and we'll give you something to eat," Mr Bradley said.

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