International Food Festival in the Dandenong Polish Seventh Day Adventist Church
An atmosphere of warmth, friendliness and relaxation accompanied the wonderful aromas in our church on Sunday 30th May, when we invited the community to come and dine with us.
The focus of this ‘Food Festival’ was to again open our church to our neighbours and other members of the community who may not have ever had contact with Adventists before. We wanted our guests to join us in celebrating the multi-cultural diversity of Australia within the setting of our Seventh Day Adventist church. It was also an opportunity to invite those community members who had attended our free Kid’s Day last October back to our church.
The hall was full of hungry visitors who delighted in tasting an eye-appealing and mouth-watering array of international dishes from Australia, Poland, India, Sweden, Italy, Greece, Romania, Serbia, Japan, Spain, South America, Mauritius, Ethiopia and Egypt. There was also a BBQ outside with the traditional Aussie sausage in bread with onions or cheese and sauce.
Visitors purchased coupons to exchange for samples of speciality dishes from around the world. The majority of foods cost between 50cents and $1:50 making it a very affordable day for families. The majority of foods were home cooked and all foods were donated by church and community members of Dandenong Polish, Oasis Nunawading, Casey, the Spanish and the Romanian Seventh Day Adventist churches. Over $1000 was raised from food sales and was donated to the City of Greater Dandenong Food Alliance who are a not for profit collaboration between local government, several organisation that provide food relief, as well as emergency food relief organisations.
Elizabeth Croom, Stefanie Luszczak and Ivanka Millen (Dandenong Seventh Day Adventist church members) have been trained as Community Public Educators and they conducted vegetarian cooking demonstrations in a marquee set up in the car park. Visitors were encouraged to help themselves to free samples of the foods demonstrated and copies of recipes at each international table of food. A health presentation on the benefits of ‘Superfoods’ to help prevent genetic damage, disease and even aging was conducted by Julie Mironowicz, a qualified nutritionist (Oasis Nunawading Seventh Day Adventist church member).
It was inspiring to see the benefits of our evangelism with community members involving themselves at our Food Festival. One neighbour involved herself by sharing her Indian dip with our audience during our recipe presentations. One of our deacons Ivanka Millen has been visiting her since our Kid’s Day. Tsion Tesema and her Mother Shilmat from Ethiopia organised their family group to share their speciality dishes with us. Tsion walked into our church one Sabbath two years ago and is now a member. Another Indian family nearby was robbed recently and was assisted by our Pastor, church members and the church Dorkas group to replace and repair items and they came to our church today with food to share with our church as a thank you. Our survey today had an excellent response rate including people wishing to have bible studies.
There were approximately 500 visitors, many with young children who eagerly attended the face painting stand and the art and craft room where they were instructed in how to paint in the traditional Aboriginal style on wooden boomerangs or money boxes to take home or enjoy colouring in Aboriginal art work. A movie titled ‘The Adventists’ which was recently produced in America was screened in the church to introduce Adventists to the general public. The afternoon culminated in live musical items by our Joyful Singers (Ages 5 – 12), Nadia Widuch on violin, Michael Czarny on saxophone and several other guest singers.
The mayor of Dandenong, Jim Memeti attended the festival and was impressed with the home-made polish donuts and the variety of beautiful food. There are 156 different nationalities represented in the City of Greater Dandenong with 56% of the community born overseas.
Our church truly is part of a very multi-cultural community and what a wonderful way to meet our neighbours –in fellowship over food in a caring Christian environment.
To see more photos from the day - CLICK HERE