Social Change Champions: Mary Wills & Kerryn Boogaard
Kerryn Boogaard and Mary Wills are the affable Founders of The Wholesome Collective (TWC), a mobile nutrition and cooking education service birthed from the Central Coast in NSW. They don’t really need much on an intro, because their answers to our questions reveal not only their incredible (and necessary) business, but their passionate personalities as well. Enjoy!
What is your social enterprise elevator pitch?
TWC is mobile nutrition and cooking education service – we take the knowledge and make it practical in a very fun and interactive way. TWC came about when Kerryn (a dietitian) and Mary (a home economist) worked together in the Wyong hospital nutrition department. We identified the need in the community for health focussed, hands on cooking experiences, instead of just verbalising nutrition advice and hoping that clients could translate this at home. We both knew that us working together provided the perfect recipe to create social change through practical and fun education.
We will change lives plate by plate!
Our key purpose is to empower vulnerable population groups to manage their own health. By imparting nutrition knowledge and teaching them essential cooking skills, they can improve their wellbeing.
Imagine the experience of tasting fresh food for the first time – at age 19.
Picture yourself sitting at the dinner table with your class mates, you have never seen a tablecloth, or a serviette and you ask quietly how to use a knife and fork.
Can you imagine living in hotel room due to domestic violence and not knowing how to prepare a nutritious meal due to the lack of equipment available?
These are our clients…
TWC works with the most vulnerable members of our community. Clients often have low levels of education, live with mental health problems every day, are socially isolated or come from low socio-economic backgrounds. These groups include young parents, youth, Aboriginal Australians and community members living with a mental health problems and/or a disability.
But we offer them the opportunity to learn how to address these barriers to eating well in a very practical and fun way!
TWC approaches established community providers to offer their clients a four session nutrition and cooking program. We take time to get to know this community and tailor the program to their individual needs. We use the group’s on-site kitchen– always a familiar and safe place. From set-up to clean up, we teach important life skills – setting the dining room table, learning about nutrition, cooking wholemeal meals, sharing the meal in a supportive social situation and cleaning up. The outcomes are real and life changing!
What are your biggest personal and/or professional challenges as a social entrepreneur in Australia?
Finding ourselves in a difficult situation of being a business but wanting to work within, and help our vulnerable community members. It is difficult to access funding/grants being a business and we do need to charge organisations appropriately so we can still survive and exist to help these vulnerable community groups.
What’s the best piece of advice you have received so far since starting your own social enterprise?
Network within the community and attempt to access funding/grants from various avenues in order to build financial sustainability/security.
If you were to start over, is there anything you would do differently?
Likely set the company up as a non-for profit organisation at the start. Getting a broader sense of being able to work within the community helping vulnerable population groups, but running a business at the same.
Where do you see the future of social enterprise in Australia?
More and more social enterprises! Hopefully more opportunities for funding and the change of grant criteria’s to include social enterprises for funding opportunities.
What appeals most to you about Social Change Central?
The opportunity to learn about new avenues for funding, connect with other social enterprises and receive some further guidance (we need this)!
The Social Change Central changemaker community is growing at a fast rate. How can our members learn more about you and help support your organisation (e.g. are you looking for funding, PR, marketing support, volunteers, interns)?
TWC is looking for funding to help more vulnerable population groups, to equip them with nutrition knowledge and teach them important cooking, food purchasing and budgeting skills in order to implement this knowledge and overcome their barriers to eating well and good health – including socio-economic status, living conditions, health and social situations. We would also love some marketing advice around how to better promote what we do and write the perfect application and elevator pitch in order to receive this funding.
And finally, what would you do if you found a lottery ticket that ended up winning $10 million?
We would go national! TWC has the professional expertise in food, cooking and nutrition and solid evidence that our program works. We can take what we have created and implement it within many many vulnerable communities in Australia.