The Parramatta Young Christian Workers (YCW) is a local youth organisation that teaches and practices Catholic Social Teaching and empowers young workers to take action on the social justice issues which affect them and their community. The YCW and its sister organisation Young Christian Students is a Diocesan organisation that is run by, for and with young workers as leaders in their community.
Community Kitchen is an action of the YCW in response to the situation of international students who often struggle to meet the necessities of life, especially due to the increasing cost of living.
Each week, YCW leaders come together with a team of student volunteers from Western Sydney University Parramatta City Campus to cook together a large enough portion of food to feed 80 students a week. Putting it in simple terms, the Community Kitchen initiative is a service provided by the YCW in partnership with Western Sydney University but the action is so much more than that. The Community Kitchen is an action made by and for young workers to address the need for healthy and nutritious meals for international students, who often do not have the knowledge, equipment, money and space to feed themselves well.
If we think of Jesus and his life on earth, many of the miracles and stories we read take place around a meal. At the wedding at Cana, His first miracle, Jesus turned water into wine; from just a few fish and pieces of bread he fed the 5000; and in the last moments before His hour had come he had shared a meal with His disciples. All of this shows the importance of sharing a meal.
In many cultures around the world, religiously significant events revolve around a meal, whether that is the breaking of a fast, the fasting of particular foods, or the celebration of life with a significant dish. Food brings people together, it doesn’t discriminate. Every being needs to eat to survive, it is a universal truth. We celebrate, mourn, laugh and live around food.
In this way, the action of the Community Kitchen is so much more than a service that we provide. It’s an opportunity for young people to gather in a space that is otherwise always shifting, it lets them be still for a moment, to share a meal with peers and strangers.
It is the initiative of over 20 young volunteers and leaders, who in the various commitments of their lives come together every Thursday evening at four o’clock to pour their commitment to each other, support their peers, put their hands together in work and join with friends in the making of a meal and the breaking of bread.
Whether it be pasta, salads, soups, curries or stir-fry, the intention is the same, and the outcome is clearly visible. At 4pm, when the YCW volunteers first arrive, the campus is quiet, the students are distant from each other and there is no connection on site. By 6:30pm, when the volunteers are serving up the food, the campus is buzzing, large groups of students are forming, the conversation is flying and students are introducing themselves to one another and meeting new friends through food and a friendly game of Kahoot organised by the YCW.
As the YCW volunteers clean, pack and leave the students they’ve served, they are full with more than just food but with peace and good company.
If you want to know more about the YCW, you can follow them on Facebook and Instagram @parraycw or contact Kathy-May Sanayeh via email: email@example.com.
With thanks to the Parramatta Young Christian Workers (YCW).