MELBOURNE NEWS

Community

Slavic Women’s Group cooks up community meals with love

A group of older women standing in a kitchen wearing hairnets and aprons.

The atmosphere is buzzing at the Jean McKendry Neighbourhood Centre, where the Slavic Women’s Group is having its weekly get-together.

Today, women from 14 nations are enjoying a lecture on holistic wellbeing, followed by lunch – delicious chicken paprikash and donuts – supported by our Community Meals program.

Marjia Maljianek, who has been the president of the group for 18 years, seeks out cheap, fresh produce every week and arrives early on Thursdays with a car load of ingredients.

Then, a team of up to 20 volunteers get to work in the kitchen to cook a nutritious feast for up to 100 people.

‘The group helps people who might be lonely. It’s also a place for them to get information about services and what’s going on in the community.’

‘We like “home food”: slow-cooked chicken soup, “sarma” or homemade cabbage rolls, schnitzel – all sorts. For celebrations, we might do roast lamb or a spit,’ said Marjia.

‘The group helps people who might be lonely. It’s also a place for them to get information about services and what’s going on in the community.’

If a member of the Slavic Women’s Group is sick, a volunteer will visit them at home or in hospital. Marjia even arranges affordable holidays for the group – 48 of them went to Phuket last year.

‘Many of the girls came to Australia as refugees from former Yugoslavia. Now, many of them are widows and don’t speak English,’ Marjia said.

‘So they enjoy being able to speak their own language here and there is friendship and the opportunity to socialise.’

Last year, our Community Meals program provided more than 30,000 meals through 43 community groups, thanks to more than 300 volunteers.

To find out more, visit community meals.

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