Restaurants raise over $183k to combat homelessness

May 7, 2024

Community spirit was on full display across VIC, NSW and SA during the month of December, as 63 socially conscious restaurants joined forces for national homelessness charity StreetSmart’s annual DineSmart campaign.

This month-long initiative, which saw each participating restaurant add an optional $2 donation to every bill, has resulted in a remarkable $183,641 raised to address the current housing and homelessness crisis.

Having just celebrated its 21st year, the event continues to be a force for positive change, proving the power of collaboration within the hospitality industry. After engaging with the campaign for 13 years with Chin Chin (Melbourne and Sydney), restaurateur Chris Lucas activated his full stable of restaurants for the first time. Noteworthy newly participating venues under Lucas restaurants umbrella, Society, Grill Americano, Kisume, Baby, Hawker Hall and Yakimono, joined forces with Chin Chin to raise a record breaking $73,113.50.

Diners at Trader House venues (including Gimlet, Marion and Cumulus Inc) contributed more than $26,000 to the cause, which was matched by the hospitality group, dollar for dollar, totalling over $52,000. Meanwhile, The Mulberry Group’s Heide Kitchen championed the event in their first year of participation, going the extra mile by not only adding $2 on every bill, but also raising additional funds through the sale of one of their beloved brunch items- corn fritters. Over in Sydney, iconic venue Cafe Sydney, rallied behind the campaign for a 14th year in a row, raising $6,800 for their local homelessness projects. Whilst loyal DineSmart partner, The Apollo, raised additional funds through their Negroni week initiative. Together with Cho Cho San, Sam Christie’s Potts Point based venues added just under $10,000 to the DineSmart tally.

“I am blown away by the success of the campaign, a true testament to the generosity of our community and the dedication of our valued restaurant partners. I’m incredibly grateful for the support of DineSmart’s long-term ambassadors, as well as the new venues who jumped on board and advocated for a world without homelessness” said Liz Bayrak, recently recruited Campaign and Events Coordinator, reflecting on her first year with DineSmart. “Together, we have not only raised funds but also increased awareness for the collective impact we can have when we all come together.”

This week, donated funds were distributed through StreetSmart’s community grants program to 34 different organisations. The diverse array of supported organisations reflects the varied reasons and circumstances of homelessness. The focus remains on funding smaller, grassroots, local homelessness charities, providing critical support such as food relief, material aid, housing support, and safety for women and children fleeing domestic violence.

“Each day we witness new faces at our door, with more people seeking assistance while hungry, cold, and in need of support. StreetSmart grant funding helps us address the immediate food needs and profound isolation and loneliness often experienced by those facing homelessness, rough sleeping, and poverty.” – St Mary’s House of Welcome, DineSmart 2024 grant recipient.

Since 2003, DineSmart has helped StreetSmart raise more than $12 million, funding essential and innovative responses to homelessness. As the campaign continues to evolve, details of a new model will be unveiled in the coming months, promising an even more impactful and inclusive event. The new model will aim to enhance the influence of the campaign, engage more industry peers, and further contribute to addressing homelessness within local communities.

“After 21 years of the campaign, we’re shaking things up with a revamped model of DineSmart. We’re excited to provide our venue partners with more flexibility and ownership, empowering them to take action against homelessness at any point throughout the year” says Liz. To find out more, visit here.

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