open table donation cheque
Gift economy

This time each year CERES Fair Food send out a little gift to all our customers – a bar of Cocoa Rhapsody chocolate or a little packet of Medjool dates along with a thank you card.

A few weeks ago at the Fair Food warehouse a group of managers gathered to co-ordinate the year’s gift giving.

Customer Service Manager, Shell Carroll, reports that in the past people have emailed her asking why we were giving them a gift, others told her they were allergic to dates, chocolate, thank you cards or a combination of all three.

An uncomfortable silence follows. Someone shyly pipes up…

…Should we be giving people gifts they possibly don’t want, need or are allergic to?  

More silence follows before another suggestion is haltingly offered…

…Maybe we shouldn’t do gifts. 

It is pointed out that packing and delivering over 2000 end-of-year gifts costs around $10,000.  Which raises another question…  

What could we do with $10,000?  

A flurry of indulgent and surprisingly illicit suggestions follow…

And then…

Maybe we could…pay-it-forward it to Open Table?

Inspired by our customers who have paid forward more than $35,000 to Open Table’s Food Relief programs, we decide to pay forward the $10,000.

And so today at Open Table’s online Christmas gift cooking workshop, Fair Food presented Open Table CEO, Ange O’Toole, with a novelty cheque for $10,000 – that’s Ange in the pic above.

When Fair Food’s customers started paying-it-forward to Open Table over a year ago we thought it might last for a few months.  More than a year later people are still giving as strongly as ever.

Ange says, “We knew the Fair Food people were conscious about their food and their environment, what we’ve discovered is that they’re incredibly conscious about their community.”

This past 12 months Open Table’s team of volunteers have been busy giving fresh food to anyone who comes to them:

–          They’ve packed 5,276 free fresh food parcels during lockdowns

–          Shared 17 tonnes of fresh produce at their Free Fresh Food Markets

–          Served 600 healthy meals at Community Lunches

–          And saved over 30 tonnes of food from landfill

Ange O’Toole says that while lockdown is over and we’re out resuming our normal lives there are many, many people who are still struggling to put food on their table each week.

With today’s novelty cheque donation Open Table’s pay-it-forward total now stands at $45,000.

We’d love to push that total to $50,000 so more people can cook the food that’s special to them through the holidays.

You can find the Open Table pay-it-forward here and if you’re interested in volunteering with them click here.

Have a great week,


Open Table fresh food market
Photo credit: Michelle Jarni


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