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Dinner served with a social conscience

Three years ago, Rachel Golding gave up her academic life to dive into the unchartered waters of commercial catering, driven by a strong social conscience and a compelling desire to help families living with disability.

“I cooked for a few friends initially. I’ve always enjoyed cooking,” says Rachel, founder of Sydney-based Dinner on the Table, a pre-cooked meal delivery service.

From academia to dinner tables

Putting her former career as an academic and occupational therapist to good use, the mum of three came up with a theory that would form the foundation of her business vision.

“I worked with the University of Sydney for most of my professional life in family and disability research,” Rachel says. “So my passion, other than really good food, is to understand what can be done to help families living with disability thrive.”

Although there are no clear answers as to why some families thrive in challenging circumstances, while others end up breaking down, Rachel believes “having dinner done” can make a genuine impact on family wellbeing.

“According to ABS data, Australian women spend around an hour and three quarters every day planning, shopping, cooking and cleaning up after dinner,” she says. “If we can give that time back to families living with disability and save them from crisis-driven breakdowns, that’s good for everybody. This may be one of the most inexpensive interventions you could provide.”

What does Dinner on the Table deliver?

Established as a social enterprise, a portion of profits from every pre-cooked, cooled and packaged meal goes to supporting families living with disability.

“A number of customers order every week, at no cost,” Rachel says. “They choose from the same menu and have their dinners delivered just like everybody else.  They use a unique code at the checkout and we pick up the tab for them.

“We wanted the benefits for our gifted meal customers to be the same as our paying customers, and vice versa. So it's a single online ordering system. We change our menu every week for people to choose from, and source high-quality meat, fruit and veg as locally as possible, whenever we can.”

Collaboration and community

Rachel actively seeks out and establishes collaborative partnerships that support the continued growth of her business, as well as the local community.

“We’ve developed partnerships with a number of disability organisations, providing work experience in our kitchen for volunteers with disabilities,” Rachel says. “And we’re also partnering with the Hills School – a specialist school for students with high support needs. They visit our kitchen every week to collect compostable scraps for their beautiful, productive gardens and feed their chickens. In turn we get fresh, locally grown herbs.”

Rachel’s socially aware approach defines how this ‘mumpreneur’ has built her business.

“We don’t just want to impact people’s lives in a positive way, but the planet as well. That influences how we do things.”

Greatest rewards

Rachel recently won the AusMumpreneur Women's Business School Excellence Award for 2017 and attended a dinner in Sydney to celebrate this honour and achievement.   

“I’ve never met this woman, but she sends me a note every week saying: ‘Thank you so much. This is such a help.’ We’ve been supporting her family with home-delivered meals for over a year now. This has to be making a difference.”

Click on the link to check out Dinner on the Table