‘240,000 MEALS FOR THOSE IN NEED’
A SIMPLE GESTURE OF A HOME-COOKED MEAL DURING LOCKDOWN CHANGED THIS STUDENT’S WORLD FOREVER
Alex Dekker sprung into action when he heard his sister was struggling to eat nutritious food when the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year, by kindly offering to make her a meal.
Little did he know his simple tray of lasagne would see him launch his own food charity, Alex Makes Meals, which has provided more than 240,000 meals to people in need.
Alex, 21, was studying science and global studies at university when his 26-yearold sister, Pietra, a doctor, called him in between her busy shifts at the Monash Medical Centre in Melbourne.
“She was so exhausted from working long shifts on the COVID ward that she was eating a muesli bar for dinner at the time,” Alex tells New Idea. “So, I did what any good brother would and offered to make her lasagne a couple of times a week to help out. We still laugh about how that meal changed my entire life.”
After delivering his culinary delight, Alex, who admits he had a lot of time on his hands due to the lockdown, kindly extended the offer to other frontline workers
‘VERY FEW PEOPLE GET THE CHANCE TO MAKE A REAL DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD’
through a post on Facebook.
Within hours he was bombarded by hundreds of workers taking up his heartfelt proposition, and around 100 volunteers keen to don their aprons and lend a hand.
“I expected a few of my
friends to reply, but more than 400 did that day, which was way out of my depth,” Alex, from Clayton, Vic, says.
“That’s when I made a choice. I could ignore it all and pretend it never happened or I could get working on ways to feed as many people as I could. My life is so far from where I thought it would be and so far from my previous life direction, it’s insane.”
After countless phone calls and a few sleepless nights, Alex and his army of volunteers started cooking up a storm in a commercial kitchen that was closed due to the pandemic. They sent out 400 meals to healthcare workers that week and have since scaled up the operation to provide a whopping 3000 meals per week to the homeless, domestic violence shelters as well as church groups that work with charities.
“As we started growing, we had so many charities reach out to us that we couldn’t keep up with the demand,” he explains. “Then I realised if we shut up shop when the restrictions eased last year, we’d be removing a support service from thousands of people who needed to eat and I couldn’t bear to think about that. So, I gave up uni, found us a space and now I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Alex Makes Meals now operates with more than 80 volunteers and is funded solely by donations and sponsorship by Toyota. The charity delivers more than
3000 meals a week, including bulkbatch curries, frittatas and chow mein, to over 50 locations for the homeless and disadvantaged youth in Victoria.
When asked if he was still going to pursue his original goal of becoming a pharmacist, Alex laughs and shakes his head.
“I feel like I have found my true calling,” he says. “Very few people get the chance to make a real difference in the world and I’m helping feed 500 people a day that may
not have eaten otherwise. I still cook a meal for my sister now and then, too.”
• For more information or to donate, visit alexmakesmeals.com