Meals With Impact with Khalida Rahim

Once we associated AFL with meat pies, but these days you’re more likely to smell a fragrant curry wafting out of the Collingwood Football Club kitchen.

Khalida Rahim

To date, Meals With Impact has facilitated more than 30,000 culturally appropriate meals.

Bridging the gap

As if adjusting to a new country’s language and culture isn’t challenging enough for many refugees and migrants, adapting to a whole new cuisine can be another significant hurdle. “If you have grown up eating a particular type of food, your tastebuds are formed by that,” says Nikki Blanch from Magpie Meals. “Imagine if you were unable to go out and buy your own food, and the food that was delivered was too spicy for your taste or not prepared appropriately for your religion – you’d end up going hungry.”

That had been the case for many refugee and migrant families in inner Melbourne before social enterprise Meals With Impact started preparing ‘Magpie Meals’ from an underutilised Collingwood Football Club kitchen in 2021. The organisation hires women from migrant and refugee backgrounds to cook traditional recipes for those less fortunate, which are then distributed through local food relief organisations. “Many of the women who come to us have always cooked without measuring ingredients,” Nikki says. “We work with them to create recipes we can produce en masse.”

The taste of home

When Khalida Rahim, 40, joined Meals With Impact in December 2021, the broader community got to taste her mouth-watering chicken gulgula that’s been passed down through generations. “Growing up in Afghanistan, we would have it every Friday with aunts and uncles,” she says. “I marinate the chicken and vegetables with a special spice from my country. I still make it for my five children on Fridays.”

Khalida cooks for Magpie Meals twice a week, learning valuable cooking skills, making new friends and expanding her employment opportunities. “It’s my first job in Australia – it connects me with different people and offers lots of opportunities to improve myself,” she says. “When I started this job, I felt very happy and positive.”

To date, Meals With Impact has facilitated more than 30,000 culturally appropriate meals and generated 25 employment opportunities for women, while also providing private catering services. “We hear from charities and customers that our meals are the first to disappear and the most requested,” Nikki says. “People often tell us that our meals remind them of their mother’s cooking.”