29 September 2023

HelpingACT's new food trailer 'a dream come true' for Canberra's 2022 Citizen of the Year

| Travis Radford
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Marcus Mills-Smith hands over Foodie's keys to HelpingACT founder Mohammed Ali.

Ginninderry community, marketing and communications head Marcus Mills-Smith hands over Foodie’s keys to HelpingACT founder Mohammed Ali. Photo: Ronald Wang.

HelpingACT’s new big yellow food trailer nicknamed ‘Foodie’ is set to hit the streets and roll towards achieving its mission that “no-one sleeps hungry” – but it almost didn’t happen.

The trailer will allow the local food relief charity to bring hot and fresh meals to more Canberrans feeling the pinch from rising costs, including those in the deep south and North Canberra.

It’s a “dream come true” for Canberra’s 2022 Citizen of the Year and HelpingACT founder Mohammed Ali, who has been fundraising towards the $45,000 cost of the trailer since July.

However the fundraiser, which fell thousands of dollars short of its goal, is not what allowed HelpingACT to buy the trailer. In fact, it wasn’t bought by the charity at all.

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Enter Ginninderry, which hosts annual community Iftar feasts and Christmas hamper drives with HelpingACT. It happened to have a spare coffee trailer lying around.

“After being a much-loved coffee trailer in our first display village, it was sitting in a paddock waiting for its next life,” Ginninderry community, marketing and communications head Marcus Mills-Smith explains.

“We have worked with Mohammed for a number of years, and when we saw him begin his fundraising drive for a food trailer and what it was going to be used for, we thought it would be a great idea to donate our food trailer to HelpingACT.

“We know the amazing work HelpingACT does, and it really aligns with our values and ethos at Ginninderry, which is that we are more than bricks and mortar – our aim is to leave a lasting legacy on the capital region.”

HelpingACT new food trailer serves up the meals.

The new food trailer will allow HelpingACT to bring hot and fresh meals to more Canberrans feeling the pinch from rising costs. Photo: Ronald Wang.

After a shiny new coat of paint in HelpingACT’s trademark yellow, the keys to the trailer were handed over to HelpingACT in a special ceremony at Ginninderry this September.

“We have not even reached $2000 on the fundraising, so when I saw the food trailer that Ginninderry was giving us, I actually could not sleep that night,” Mr Ali said.

“It makes my job and the job of our 50 volunteers so much easier now, and it will allow us to take our barbecues to more locations across Canberra.

“It looks very professional and has hotplates and cooking facilities on board. It is more than we could have hoped for.”

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For the last five years, the retired biochemist has run HelpingACT to provide food security to vulnerable Canberrans, including refugees and asylum seekers, homeless people, international students and anyone else in need. He and the other volunteers arrange food drop-offs, stock food pantries, provide school breakfasts and host monthly barbecues around the ACT.

The food trailer will allow the charity to expand its barbecue program to Canberra’s outer districts and cook fundraising sausage sizzles to buy more non-perishable food.

“Ginninderry has really opened a door for us and given us so many options,” Mr Ali said.

“Whenever things have been tough and we have fallen short, we have had the support of Ginninderry and the ACT Government and we are incredibly grateful.”

To find out more about HelpingACT or to make a tax deductible donation to the charity, visit the HelpingACT website.


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