Hospo CheckIn: Kate Stewart, FareShare

Since COVID-19, former co-founder of En Pointe Events, Kate Stewart, is moving to a different beat.

By: Turnip Media + Worksmith

1. How has the pandemic changed your working life?

Like so many people, my working life has been turned upside down !

In early March the En Pointe team and I were working around the clock on final details for major events including the World's Longest Lunch, FlavourFest and Run for the Kids. From Friday 13th, every event in our diary was cancelled. It was carnage, and I went from flat out and stressed to no work and stressed !

The following week FareShare called. They had been deemed an essential service by government and needed some assistance to restructure operations in order to continue safely cooking meals for those in need during the pandemic.

At FareShare we’ve shifted from our beloved volunteer workforce to utilising a core team of skilled hospitality professionals who come in for what we’re calling ‘super shifts’ – and can work in siloed groups. We were able to make this change really quickly thanks to support from the Victorian Government, Woolworths and the Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group (ALH) Group. How lucky am I to be in a role where I’ve been able to hire people who have lost work in the hospitality sector because of COVID-19.

These super shifts have also led to an increase in production - in May alone FareShare cooked over 500,000 nutritious meals for those doing it tough.

2. What have you learned about yourself during this time of isolation - in a business and/or personal sense?

For the first time in too long, I was forced to slow down. The pandemic created space for me to reflect, to read more, cook more and look for the small joys in each day. To challenge my purpose and how best I can spend my time. As such I've made the big decision to step away from the day to day events world and leave En Pointe in the capable hands of co-founder Rocco. I'm hoping to keep some space in my life moving forward - for continued reflection and because I think that being crazy busy all the time doesn't equal me being my best, kindest self. I've created a consulting business called Every Bit Counts - where I hope to help businesses be the best versions of themselves.

3. How are you and the people at FareShare?

The FareShare team are amazing ! We work in a reactive industry - dealing with rescued produce that changes daily, and distribution to hundreds of agencies which also changes regularly. The pandemic has added further change, which the team have adapted to so well. We miss our volunteers, but have found ways to keep in touch, and have built so many new relationships which I think will last a lifetime. I'm energised by the kindness, generosity and innovation that I constantly see from the hospitality industry who have had such a tough time but are so incredibly resilient. There's still a lot of work to be done but I think the power has shifted a little from the consumer back to the restaurants and hopefully people are seeing dining out in a new light and will appreciate hospitality for the true value it brings to society.