Hearty food & a friendly smile

Georgina Grine and Mathew Johnston founded Hunter Food Relief Centre in Cessnock – knowing that to feed the belly is to nourish the soul.

My dad was Croatian, my mum is Tongan. Home cooking was the natural thing in our house,” Georgina shares.

“I am the youngest of six siblings and growing up, we didn’t have much money. We were taught that having a roof over your head and being able to put food on the table are the important things in life. That – and being a good person who helps others when they can.”

With three of her sisters working in hospitality, she followed the family tradition, but eventually walked away. “It all got a bit much,” she recalls. She completely switched gears and began driving trucks for Glencore. Yet, at some point, she started to wonder about her purpose in life.

The answer came two years ago, when local food charity Hunter Hands of Home was folding. Georgina and her partner Mat put up their hands to help. She was stunned when she learned that one of the volunteers was a homeless person himself.

“Here was a man, distributing food to the homeless, when he was in the same difficult situation. If he could do this, what excuse did I have, not help?

“I wasn’t in hospitality anymore, but I still love to cook and had my experience as a chef to draw upon.

“With the help of family and friends, we started cooking meals at our house and bought groceries from our own money.”

From there, things quickly grew and two years ago, Georgina and Mat founded Hunter Food Relief Centre (HFRC). They held a community meeting with other homeless services and local churches to better understand what was needed and how they could best work together.

For more info, to get involved or to donate, go to hunterfoodreliefcentre.org.au

Read the full story in our Summer Edition of Hunter & Coastal Lifestyle Magazine or subscribe here.