COMMUNITY: Jets support OzHarvest cooking program

Four Newcastle Jets players joined in a new OzHarvest community cooking program on Wednesday to help cook up a storm and get some tips on preparing delicious, nutritious and affordable meals.

Ben Kantarovski joined Craig Connelly to prepare butter chicken. 

Ben Kennedy was on pappadum duty and “quality control”.

Andy Brennan pulled together a healthy garden and fetta salad to go with Julie Donoghue’s tuna baked risotto.

And Daniel Mullen worked with Julie’s son Eric Fischer on an apple crumble with vanilla custard.

The Jets joined the final session of a five week NEST (Nutrition Education Sustenance Training) program at Merewether Uniting Church.

Each week participants had come together for two hours to discuss food topics before preparing a meal and then sitting down to eat their culinary creations together. Topics include budgeting, shopping, growing food, nutrition, reading food labels, as well as preparing and storing food. Participants take leftovers home so there is no waste.


Kantarovski said he found cooking a hard skill initially but now cooks most nights. He likes to shop at farmers’ markets to get plenty of fresh, local produce.

“Nutrition is really important to peak performance on the field and it is also really important when recovering from injury,” Kantarovski said. “Cooking yourself means you know what you are putting into your body."

Kantarovski's cooking buddy for the day, Craig Connelly, from Newcastle, lives alone and found out about the program through the church. He said he found the program really helpful in reminding him about the sugar and fat content in a lot of packaged foods particularly sauces.

Julie Donoghue, from Hamilton South, said she had learned some great tips on storing food properly to avoid waste as well as some shortcuts for preparing meals quickly.

“The program has been a lot of fun too and I have enjoyed everyone’s company,” Donoghue said.

Daniel Mullen said it was good to get some tips on maximising and using what is in the pantry.

“That way I can come home and put a meal together to avoid the temptation of eating out, which can be expensive,” Mullen said.


Program co-ordinator Lea Browning said NEST is a different but logical extension to its food rescue service. The program is now running across the Hunter because of $50,000 in funding from Greater Charitable Foundation. The participants are often involved with clients of OzHarvest’s food delivery service. The Merewether Uniting Church runs a Tuesday night dinner for community members to which OzHarvest donates food.

Browning said one of the participants of this program has volunteered to take over tending the church’s vegetable and herb garden.

“Our program teaches people in need of all ages the skills and knowledge to nurture themselves through guidance around healthier eating choices and food preparation behaviours,” she said.

As well as providing funding, the Greater Charitable Foundation arranges for Greater Bank staff to help Lea out at certain sessions. Chris Fuller, volunteered at this session. Mr Fuller said that having the Jets’ players join in the session made it a fun for everyone.

Greater Bank is the major community partner of the Newcastle Jets. 

To find out more about NEST click here or contact OzHarvest Newcastle on 4940 0767.