Food for Good: a Nutrition Society of Australia event to support sustainable diets

Our next blog is by Ms Rachel Weir, a Bachelor of Nutrition Sciences undergraduate student. Rachel attended a Nutrition Society of Australia dinner organised by Dr Catherine Milte and Dr Katherine Livingstone, members of Nutrition Society of Australia’s Melbourne group. Rachel was invited to give an overview of the night.

On Wednesday 24th of July of this year, a group of over 60 nutrition professionals and students alike got together to share a common interest – food security and sustainability. This event featured thought-provoking speeches from three guest speakers, followed by a delicious three-course Tamil feast cooked by Sri Lankan asylum seeking refugees. Not only was it educational, it was a great networking opportunity for all!


The NSA Food for Good event was held at The Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies (CERES). CERES’s organic café, Merri Café operates under the philosophy of sustainability and community. CERES is a not-for-profit centre with the overarching goal of local and global economic, social and environmental sustainability. All profits made from the café go directly back to CERES to fund their other wonderful programs. All food featured on the menu is sourced from their own Community Grocer which supports localised food systems and boasts a menu full of organic, free range and cruelty free products.

Guest speakers

Our first speaker of the evening was Dr Rebecca Lindberg; a public health researcher from Deakin University’s School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences who specialises in many areas of public health including not-for-profit food programs, social and health policy, nutrition inequities and chronic disease prevention. She is well known by nutrition students as a sustainability, nutrition and food policy lecturer. Rebecca touched on several aspects of food security, specifically about the alarming amount of food that gets wasted (one third!) and the implications this has on our environment. Rebecca introduced the idea of a more sustainable food system through human consumption of crickets. She discussed the health benefits of crickets, including their high source of protein, vitamins and minerals while revealing their minimal impact on the environment. The faces of the audience showed that there’s a lot of work that needs to be done before this type of food is accepted on the market!

Rebecca shared the story of her career and how she got to where she is today, giving prospective students hope that there are many opportunities out there and it makes a difference to find the right company at the right time. Her career started out shortly after graduating despite having little volunteer experience. She begun working at a small not-for-profit organisation, SecondBite, which has significantly increased in size and is now recognised as a reputable organisation providing rescued food to disadvantaged individuals. Rebecca’s career path provided optimism and assurance that there is a job out there for everyone.  

Our second speaker was Leila Alexander, the Operations Manager of The Community Grocer. This not-for-profit social enterprise aims to improve access to fresh and affordable produce for the entire community. Leila explained that as living costs in Victoria continue to rise, households are finding it more and more difficult to put fresh fruit and vegetables on the table. Produce from The Community Grocer can be up to sixty percent cheaper than any other local food outlet! Leila discussed how forty-one percent of Victorians now experience food insecurity, and this number is only growing.

The Community Grocer is an enterprise that not only involves several community farmer’s markets conveniently located in low-income areas, but it also offers weekly produce boxes delivered to your doorstep by bicycle. Despite reducing carbon emissions via transportation, human-powered bicycles mean delivery of produce boxes are limited to inner metropolitan areas. To service more areas, Leila needs electric cargo bikes that are expensive and require funding. Servicing a greater area means the physical, economic and social barriers to fresh fruit and vegetables are reduced, ultimately leading to a more sustainable food system. She kindly asked for donations to better the lives of less privileged families.

Lastly, we heard from one of the lovely Sri Lankan chefs who was busy in the kitchen cooking up the delicious Tamil Feast. His story was eye-opening, touching on how he got to where he is today. The sheer joy on his face as the room took their first bite was a highlight of the evening. The food was exceptional – entrée was a Bonda (aka deep-fried potato deliciousness), followed by a large plate of several curries, dahl, veggies and rice, and last but not least was baklava and chai tea for dessert. It was a privilege to be immersed in Sri Lankan culture and taste their traditional cuisine, especially for such a great cause!

Not only did we hear from two fabulous guest speakers about their journey in the nutrition industry and finding their passion of food security and sustainability, we were privileged to hear about the wonderful work CERES does for the community through supporting Sri Lankan asylum seekers. The chefs put on a fabulous three-course meal, topping off the night. What a great networking opportunity it was for students interested in pursuing a career in food security and sustainability – a night not to be missed!

If you’d like to donate to The Community Grocer to fund their electric cargo bikes, please follow click here.

If you’d like to know more about Nutrition Society Australia and how you can become a member, please click here.

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