Staff and inmates at Parklea Correctional Centre donate fresh produce to Foodbank NSW & ACT

MTC-Broadspectrum is donating fresh, organic produce to Foodbank NSW & ACT (FBNA) under an ongoing partnership to help feed vulnerable Australians. The first harvest of donated food was picked up by Foodbank on 18 June 2020 and included 16 kilograms of salad mix (rocket, spinach, coriander and lettuce).

“Hunger never sleeps,” said Ian Cox, FBNA Food Development Manager. “Donations like this are very welcome, particularly in the winter when produce supply tends to drop off. The harvest from the Parklea Correctional Centre partnership will be distributed via our 1,000 charity partners across NSW and ACT.”

The fresh produce was grown in the Parklea Correctional Centre horticultural industry by a team of 10 inmates who are learning horticultural trade skills as part of their structured rehabilitation and reintegration plans. Under the watchful eyes of the staff Horticulture Industry Supervisor, inmates gain practical skills that will help them get job-ready when they re-enter the community upon their release – a key to reducing recidivism.

“They learn the process of taking care of the soil, working it through the drought conditions and obtaining a crop,” said Horticulture Industry Supervisor Sanjeev Kumar. “They are doing something productive with their time, and with this donation they are also giving back in a small way. That’s important for them.”

Giving back is one of the goals for the prison’s five industry programs, where inmates work and learn job skills. Last year, the centre donated dozens of native trees and plants to area schools, and earlier this year, items from the centre’s cabinetry shop were sold to benefit bushfire recovery.

Under this partnership with Foodbank NSW & ACT, MTC-Broadspectrum plans to provide weekly or fortnightly donations through the winter. A similar arrangement will be established for the summer harvest.

MTC-Broadspectrum Business Director Sidd Mehta said there are plans to make more donations as well. “We’re currently engaging with community groups to provide native plants that will assist in regeneration of areas that have been affected by recent bushfires.”

Parklea Correctional Centre is operated by MTC-Broadspectrum on behalf of Corrective Services NSW.