Free Food Program

Our Free Food Project was started in 2016 and is ongoing. Its purpose is to provide fresh food to school students, families and community members.

The program provides access to fresh fruit and produce to around 1000 school children, families and senior citizens across the ridge each week.

Are you a food seller and would like to donate food? Please contact us.

Program History

Andrew and Fabian Fillip-Gautier founded the Free Food Project at Sherbrooke Community School in 2016 and further expanded the program initiated by the Philanthropic Collective. The Free Food Project works on the simple universal premise of similarly run programs: ‘take what you need, bring what you can’.

This simple idea of offering, without judgement, to anyone who requires nourishment to simply take what they need, whilst also making it possible to contribute their own offering in return if in the position to do so, has resonated with the community.

Members of the Collective had identified a noticeable number of students presenting at school in the morning who clearly had not eaten the most important meal of the day, breakfast. Building on the basic framework on offer we recognised the importance of providing a safe, non-judgemental space to offer each student, family member and community member the opportunity to access fresh fruit, vegetables, bread and sundry items each morning. Our response is based on the understanding that students are better able to learn when nourished with freshly prepared food by loving and caring volunteers.

Up to 70 kilos of fresh food and vegetables are delivered by our dedicated team of volunteers to Sherbrooke Community School each week with fresh fruit on offer to all throughout the day. Further free food is also prepared to supply the free after-school homework club twice per week.


The Philanthropic Collective paid for all sundry items such as butter, cheese and condiments to the breakfast club at Sherbrooke Community School with a further donation of $1000 towards maintaining this supply in 2017.

Our Working Partnerships

None of what we can achieve would be at all possible without the support of our working partnerships. It is important to acknowledge these partnerships for their endless generosity towards ‘good will’ and community.

  • Woolworths – Monbulk
  • Aldi – Monbulk
  • Piggery Café – Burnham Beaches

How the Program has grown

Currently a normal week of the Free Food Program looks like this:


  • Sassafras Primary School
  • Servicing the entire week of after-school care to students with fresh fruit and bread. Parents, family members and teachers of students.
  • Senior citizens within the Sassafras community.
  • Parents facing hardship with care boxes of food.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday

  • Sherbrooke Community School
  • Servicing the entire week of breakfast club, afterschool homework club and ongoing fresh fruit and bread to students, parents, family members and teachers of students.
  • Parents facing hardship with care boxes of food.


  • Hills Home Schooling Community & Monbulk Youth Group
  • Servicing the entire week of activities for the home-schooling network with ongoing fresh fruit and bread to students, parents and family members.
  • Parents facing hardship with care boxes of food.

Plus Fresh fruit delivered to the Monbulk Youth Group each week.

It is important to clarify that all donated goods are carefully dispersed in real time to maximise on the life of the produce between the window of sell-by dates and use-by dates. Having a rapid response distribution channel is key to our success.

Any extra items are donated to families of Sassafras Pre-School, Ferny Creek Scouts and any member of the community in need.

Note: All items donated are on the strict understanding that they are always to be given for free and are not to be used for any other purpose. Items cannot be on sold or used to form part of items to be sold.

The Full Circle

Members of the home schooling community take the donated produce and teach students the lost art of preserving and pickling excess donated items. A great deal of pride and satisfaction comes from knowing this produce is being utilised with a second life.


The Free Food Project is a winner in the war on waste, getting food to people who need it before it spoils and goes to landfill.

How it works and what’s involved

  • Contact made with business managers at Aldi – Monbulk, Woolworths – Monbulk and Burnham Beeches Bakery.
  • Competition of paperwork to progress access.
  • Compliance with insurance obligations.
  • Knowledge base of proper food handling.
  • Daily collection of fresh produce (at own and parent volunteer expense).
  • Daily collection of bread via Burnham Beeches.
  • Daily sorting of fresh fruit and produce into care boxes.
  • Disposal of past usage fruit.
  • Daily distribution of free food parcels to families facing hardship at the schools and within the local community.
  • Delivery of food parcels to homes of families facing hardship over school holiday periods and meeting in a central location to distribute food.
  • Letters of appreciation to all supporters.

Advocating for Fresh Healthy Food

The Philanthropic Collective’s approach to our Free Food Project is to always advocate for fresh, nutritional and healthy choices to be available to anyone who requires it. At all points of our distribution chain our volunteers work closely with schools and school canteen managers to ensure healthy options.

Additional funds raised for the program

We ran a Bunnings BBQ fundraiser in 2018 which raised $1,861.60 for food and supplies for the Breakfast Club and the canteen.