By Lorrin Windahl.
It has been very rewarding to have been involved in such a worthy and life improving project as the Food Justice Truck (FJT) – a collaboration with the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC). It’s not often that an opportunity comes along when you can apply your design skills and experience to such a meaningful and sustainable project such as this. The truck is now officially travelling the streets of Melbourne to provide the community and asylum seekers (at a 75% discount) with locally produced fresh food.
The Food Justice Truck (FJT) provides asylum seekers with affordable, fresh produce–$80 worth of food for $20. According to statistics there are over 12,000 asylum seekers living in Victoria, most below the poverty line and 70% experiencing food shortages. A healthy diet for a male in Australia costs $130 per week (Monash University, Dept. of Nutrition & Dietetics). Many asylum seekers have no work rights, some receive payments equal to 89% of the Newstart allowance (leaving $10-$20 p/week for food), and some have no income at all.
Existing meals and food-bank programs ensure basic food security for 1400 ASRC members. However, this is still a shortfall of over 10,000 asylum seekers. That’s where the FJT comes in. It aims to improve the food security of thousands of asylum seekers by running a mobile wholefood market that sells to the general public at market rates, and to asylum seekers at a 75% discount.
The FJT affords a welcoming marketplace located at schools, community events and public places – a convenient shopping solution with broad community reach. Consumers are passively educated about asylum seekers, local food producers, minimising waste, recycling, and foods from asylum seekers’ home countries. Asylum seekers are given a better understanding of western foods (how to handle, store, prepare and cook them) and the opportunity the socialise with local community members in a relaxed, inclusive atmosphere.
The Food Justice Truck is a great example of socially responsible design. Not only from a social point of view but also environmentally. The FJT aims to be carbon neutral and a hybrid truck, salvaged timber cladding, locally sourced food and the supply of reusable bags are all certainly helping to achieve this.