By Tony Laycock, President, Rotary Club of Canterbury
The FORaMEAL project is an initiative of the Rotary Club of Canterbury. It was originally established to help those across the Asia Pacific region, an area prone to many natural disasters leading to the loss of homes and access to basic necessities including food.
However, in 2017, Dr Douglas Hawley brought to life the idea of creating simple meal packs that could be stored on location and distributed immediately after a disaster occurred. Each pack contains a mixture of rice, oats, lentils, vitamins and minerals, and can feed between five and six people. Because the packs are vegan, people from most cultures can consume them. Designed to be bland in taste, the packs can be modified by the addition of spices, vegetables, meat, fish, fruit and even sugar to accommodate most culturally significant tastes. Each FORaMEAL pack provides a nutritious meal containing the main food groups of carbohydrates, fats, proteins and nutrients.
The FORaMEAL packing project has been a great success across District 9800. Financial and physical support is provided by a number of individuals and organisations including, but not limited to, the District leadership; clubs within the Eastside cluster, particularly Rotary Balwyn and Camberwell; schools in the Boroondara area; and, Swinburne University. Packing events at District conferences have been a great success with up to 40,000 meals produced in a short space of time. Sponsorship of material from suppliers has also meant that a large stockpile of packs is ready for distribution. Originally destined for the Philippines, but held up because of COVID, these packs have been diverted for use in Victoria. 
The global pandemic has had a massive financial and physical impact on those who have lost their jobs within our community, and have been unable to access essential support. Refugee and community organisations in Victoria have been actively helping their constituents by delivering food packs and basic commodities. Rotary Canterbury has been assisting through arranging the distribution of packs across the District. Working with other clubs such as Melton, North Melbourne, Bacchus Marsh, Bendigo Sandhurst, Glen Eira and Glenferrie, along with some twenty community organisations acting as distribution partners, approximately 60,000 meals have been delivered to various organisations across the State.
The demand for the product continues to grow and the Rotary Club of Canterbury stands well prepared to provide ongoing assistance.
For further information about this important project please feel free to visit website: or contact