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Vinnies notches up 40 years

Monday, 1st July, 2013

Homely Services President Bev Kerr, Bishop Fox Meal Service secretary and treasurer Pat Leonard, executive officer of St Vincent de Paul Matt Cleary and president of the Bishop Fox Meal Service Pat Davis. Homely Services President Bev Kerr, Bishop Fox Meal Service secretary and treasurer Pat Leonard, executive officer of St Vincent de Paul Matt Cleary and president of the Bishop Fox Meal Service Pat Davis.

By Emily Roberts

A dinner was held over the weekend to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the opening of St Vincent de Paul's meal service.

Pat Leonard, a member of the original committee, said the service opened in June 1973 and was named the Bishop Fox Memorial Centre.

"The idea to start a meal centre came about when we saw people in front of the charity centre eating out of the bins," Mr Leonard said.

"We decided to do something and start up at place for men and women to come and eat."

He said there was a lot of work involved, including approaching Council and the State Government.

"We needed volunteers to cook the meals," he said. "We decided to serve lunch Monday to Friday. We did that for 50 weeks of the year."

At the start there were 30 women who volunteered.

"When we first started it was 30 cents a meal, then in 1977 it was 80 cents - in the 90s it went to $2 and still is," Mr Leonard said.

"We serve a bowl of soup, a hot meal, bread and butter, as well as coffee or tea."

The volunteers work on a roster system.

"Some days we cook 24 meals and other days we cook 52.

"We do 600 to 700 meals a month, depending on the people."

Mr Leonard said people were very grateful for the service.

"For the first six months we only cooked 365 meals, but the message got around and we increased our demand and in this modern day, we will increase our demand again."

Mr Leonard said anyone could have a meal as long as they were over 18 years of age.

"In the whole time we have been going, we have served 266,566 meals - that's about 26 a day," he said.

The dinner to celebrate the anniversary was held at the Musicians' Club.

"We wanted to thank our volunteers who have helped out," Mr Leonard said.

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