Amongst the clatter of knives and forks, a crowd of close to 30 chatted contentedly as they enjoyed a delicious serving of spaghetti bolognaise and wholeheartedly agreed the opening of the Maclean community kitchen on May 9 was an overwhelming success.
Several came to participate in an evening of good food and good company while a few couples relished the opportunity to tuck into a much longed for meal.
Others simply embraced the chance to sit and interact with others.
Organised by dedicated members of the Clarence Valley Community Church and the Lower Clarence Presbyterian Church, the Maclean community kitchen is open to everyone and is set to become a prominent weekly attraction.
Describing the first night as having a really good vibe, Grant Kaczorowski from the Clarence Valley Community Church was pleased to see people enjoying themselves, adding there were lots of conversations and positive comments happening around the table.
“Everyone thought it was a great night, and a lot of people said it was really well organised and coordinated,” he said.
“It really felt wonderful to be able to give something back to our local community, and to spread some positivity when there are a lot of people doing it tough.
“The community kitchen goes beyond offering people a place to come and enjoy a meal, it’s also about being there to help and support people.”
While traditional spaghetti bolognaise and a vegetarian alternative were on the menu for the opening night, Mr Kaczorowski said a variety of healthy and nutritious recipes are currently being developed, with vegetables to be a staple feature.
“We will also do hamburgers at some point, along with fried rice and a mixture of soups,” he added.
While established local businesses including SPAR Maclean have previously donated a monetary amount towards the community kitchen, Mr Kaczorowski said other Clarence Valley businesses including Maclean Bakery, Maclean Toyworld, the Maclean Hotel, BizPrint, and the Clarence Valley Independent have also been incredibly supportive.
Significant donations have also been gratefully received from local residents, and Mr Kaczorowski is looking forward to working with more businesses in the region who can generously contribute goods and services to the community kitchen.
“We’re very thankful for all the support we’ve received so far,” he said.
The Maclean community kitchen operates each Monday night between 6-7:30pm at the CWA rooms at 40 River Street, Maclean.