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In this quiet suburban Australian side street, fresh food is free for those most in need

2 min read

Better Society
In this quiet suburban Australian side street, fresh food is free for those most in need
Source: Facebook/FoodIsFreeLanewayBallarat

Food is Free Laneway is a space for people to drop off or collect surplus nutritious food for free and connect with the neighbourhood.

The Food is Free Laneway allows people to drop off excess food for people to take for free

Based on an American idea, Food Is Free Inc. is a grassroots, community led not-for-profit group benefitting all citizens of Ballarat , Australia, with a focus on those experiencing disadvantage and has a core purpose of assisting and promoting food security and community cohesion and inclusion.

Drawing communities together This initiative is not just about promoting the idea that everyone should have access to good food, but about drawing together communities to help each other to live and eat well. Source: Youtube/HappenFilms

All Food Is Free projects are run by an amazing group of passionate and committed volunteers

Food Is Free Laneway, on the corner of Ripon St. & Warrior Place, in the Australian town of Ballarat, was started in 2014 by founder and Director Lou Ridsdale. Inspired by John VanDeusen Edwards (founder of Food Is Free in USA) as well as Ron Finley and other guerrilla gardeners. Food is Free Laneway is a magical space for people to drop off or collect surplus nutritious food (veggies, fruit, herbs etc) for free and connect with the neighbourhood. 

People leave excess food, seedlings, plants and even food scraps for composting on permanent tables set up in a laneway alongside Lou’s home. Anyone can take food for free!

The Food is Free Project is a community-building and food-growing initiative that began in 2012 in the USA and has taken root in many communities all over the world since then.

It has spawned others around Australia — 15 at last count, including Bendigo, Bairnsdale, Ararat and Castlemaine — and Lou has worked with the US founder, John VanDeusen Edwards,
to create a “how-to” guide for communities to set up their own.
The initiative is being adopted in other parts of Australia It has spawned others around Australia — 15 at last count, including Bendigo, Bairnsdale, Ararat and Castlemaine — and Lou has worked with the US founder, John VanDeusen Edwards,
to create a “how-to” guide for communities to set up their own. Source: Facebook/FoodIsFreeLanewayBallarat

No stigma — Help yourself

"There are some homeless people who come here at night to get some food," Ridsdale said. "We’ve installed some solar-powered lights so they can see what’s available.

"I like the fact that this can be all anonymous if someone wants it to be. It’s available to everyone. People can come here to pick up some fruit or veg if the family budget is falling a few dollars short, or they can come here to pick up some fresh produce just because they want to.

"There’s no stigma about coming here. No one’s judged in the laneway." — Lou Risdale

Source: TheAge.com.au

He started the first Food is Free Project in Austin, Texas USA 5 years ago. Since then the idea is catching on in many places.
John VanDeusen Edwards He started the first Food is Free Project in Austin, Texas USA 5 years ago. Since then the idea is catching on in many places. Source: Facebook/FoodIsFreeLanewayBallarat
Make an Impact

How to start a 'Food is Free' project in your neighbourhood: a PDF Guide

If this article has aroused your interest in creating a similar project in your neighbourhood, this PDF contains all the information you will need to get started.