Determined to make a difference and give back to those less fortunate, local man Lyndon Galea is tackling hunger, one sandwich at a time.
At age 25, Mr Galea had deferred from university and was working part time in the Shepparton area when he came across an article in The News.
‘‘I was very shocked to hear that there were kids doing it so hard locally,’’ he said.
“I thought I’ve got to try and do something.”
Riffling through his mum’s pantry, Mr Galea grabbed a few lunchtime essentials to share with students missing out on lunch in the local area.
“I wanted to try and help out in any way I could,” he said.
This was the beginning of not-for-profit organisation Eat Up, which has now donated over 250,000 lunches to schools across Victoria, News South Wales and Queensland since its humble beginnings in 2013.
Six years on and currently with a presence in 526 schools nationwide, Mr Galea is determined to continue expanding across the country, helping as many children as possible.
“It’s really encouraging that we’ve been able to support more and more schools but it’s also bittersweet of course.”
Mr Galea says it is disappointing to have seen a slight increase in need over the years.
“One in eight Australian children arrive at school hungry every day,” he said.
“The need has unfortunately increased and we are trying our best to keep up with that.”
He said financial pressure and constraints contributed to the issue.
“There tends to be ebbs and flows around the welfare payment cycle.”
“We often see a spike just before the next payment arrives.”
With the support of large corporations in the form of food donations and people-power, Mr Galea says Eat Up is able to deliver more than 9500 lunches to school each week.
“A lot of our volunteer groups have offices in other states which help with expansion,” he said.
Mr Galea was recently granted a social change fellowship through the Westpac Scholarship Program in which he was fortunate enough receive $50,000 for leadership development.
“It was a really special opportunity to learn more from other business leaders.”
Mr Galea is currently taking part in the Williamson Community Leadership Program 2019, an experience made possible through the social change fellowship.
“We’re at a point where we want to scale up on a national basis so it’s been amazing to learn from other business leaders,” he said.
Mr Galea said he was grateful for the opportunity and support he received in establishing Eat Up within the Shepparton community.
He specifically said the support he received from the Lighthouse Foundation’s Lisa McKenzie helped him to succeed.
“She really encouraged me and I don’t think it would have started without her.”
“She connected me with Shepparton Foodshare and GOTAFE and that’s what it's all been built upon.
“I love Shepparton, everything has started here.”
For more information or to get involved with Eat Up, visit eatup.org.au