A woman arrives at Suncoast Fresh. ‘I’ve got some more stuff from IGA!’ Dan Readman, from Bayleaf in Byron, comes out. ‘Great, I’ll grab it.’
‘I think you’ll need a trolley,’ says the woman. By the time Dan gets to the boot of her 4×4 and sees what is inside, he says, ‘We’ll need two trolleys!’
This is indicative of the generosity of many businesses around the Shire as they regroup during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Creating a take-away menu and online shop
Towards the end of March, Bayleaf had to close their doors for eat-in dining. It wasn’t long before Dan, Nikki and Jesse created a take-away menu and online shop, but they also created something else. Something really special.
Operating in Byron they knew, only too well, that people were doing it hard because of the loss of work owing to pandemic closures.
So began ‘A little goodness’ community food box campaign – connecting people and families in need with food essentials.
Food boxes are given to those in need via a ‘nominate a mate’ program, running from the Bayleaf website.
A week’s supply of food
A nomination means a home will have delivered a week’s supply of food, including fruit and veges from Suncoast, a sourdough loaf from Bread Social, rice and pasta from IGA Byron Bay, delicious coffee from Blackboard Roastery, and choc hemp powergrains from Brookfarm, and that’s just for starters.
The trolley loads that have arrived had lots of other goodies as well.
Dan feels it is important to contribute. ‘We have always been well supported by the wider community – it’s important to be community-minded. This unique experience has shown us that we all can be truly empathetic to each other’s circumstances’.
Dan says it’s an incredible feeling to know you are helping others out. ‘Because we are in hospitality, it’s also a great avenue to provide some sunshine into our own lives amongst the stress of getting through this. This program is designed to pass it forward, so we are constantly getting feedback through emails and social media from, not only those receiving the boxes, but those that are nominating friends or neighbours as well. The feedback loop is amazing for us and our sponsors.’
Many people want to contribute to the community
Dan says the program has revealed a lot of people locally who want to contribute to the community but don’t know where to give. ‘We are always looking for support to continue this program, either via food sponsorships, or financial donations’.
Dan says the response has been everything from tears, to outpourings of emotion and relief. ‘People are trying to work out who nominated them, and they are thinking about who they can nominate as well. This is the amazing thing about passing it forward. Even the delivery drivers have been shedding a tear at being involved at the front line of those in need, and also because they have such an important role in getting these [boxes] to people in need or stress.
‘Anyone can be nominated, and even self-nominate,’ says Dan. ‘They don’t have to be destitute. This food is to offer some relief during a very stressful, uncontrollable situation, to improve home life and financial pressures.’
The project has delivered 200 boxes
Dan says they have delivered 200 boxes, and will continue to run the program as long as nominations and funding continue, or until this period of uncertainty ends. ‘The most important thing is to get people to think of others and their situation, and then take action by nominating them for a food box. We will do the rest.’
‘This is a great opportunity for everyone in the community to give back without having to offer money or any type of donation. You just have to think about your community and fill out a form and then sit back and feel good for being involved and helping out.’
Anyone in Byron, Ballina, or Lismore Shires can be nominated. Nominations are anonymous via a page on their website www.bayleafbyronbay.com/nominate-a-mate.