While bushfires raged through several Australian states in January, a number of communities across the country came together to provide support for emergency services volunteers and staff.
Members of Slow Food Hobart in Tasmania, one of the worst affected areas, rallied together with local bakers, cooks and producers to feed up to 250 firefighters three meals a day.
Slow Food Hobart committee member and chef Jo Cook received the call to co-ordinate the kitchen and wasted no time getting a mobile kitchen ready with food and personnel.
“My immediate reaction was, ‘I can’t do this by myself’, but they were desperate. So I found the people who could help,” Jo said.
A daily budget of only $25 per firefighter was allocated for three meals and drinks.
“At that budget you could either have real food and no wages, or the cheapest quality food and pay somebody,” Jo said.
“They are at their weakest. They have just worked a 12 or 15 hour shift; that’s when they need nutrition and really high-quality food.”
Mary McNeill, a Hobart member and pastry chef, made shortbread biscuits and filled them with jam for a recharging sweet snack.
Other bakers provided plum crumbles, banana butterscotch puddings and of course, bread. One veteran firefighter said he had never been so well fed, and the man who hired Jo said he had never seen morale so high.