#COOK2CONNECT: Manu Feildel Leads A-List Culinary Lineup for New Campaign to Support OzHarvest


Food insecurity and loneliness are at all-time highs in Australia.

Pre-pandemic, 1 in 4 Australians were already reporting problematic levels of loneliness. In 2020, this number increased by 100% with 1 in 2 Australians now feeling lonely. As Australia has dipped in and out of lockdown, food-insecurity has also become an increasingly major issue.

To combat these epidemics taking place in COVID-19’s shadow, Australia’s most-loved culinary figures are joining forces to remind Australians about the benefits of meal times.

#Cook2Connect is a digital campaign which encourages us all to ‘share a plate with a mate’ – while raising much-needed funds for OzHarvest.

Coordinated by MGI Entertainment, #Cook2Connect builds on the success of its 2020 campaign #HomeCooked – which helped OzHarvest deliver an additional 300,000 meals to Australians experiencing food insecurity.

OzHarvest’s Head of Impact, Ashley Killeen, said there has never been such a high demand for food relief in Australia, with OzHarvest experiencing a 47% increase in demand over the past 18 months.

“The last year has been challenging for everyone and we’ve seen so many new people turning to charities for the first time in their lives. The generosity and support from the community has been amazing and we are so thankful for MGI Entertainment and the #Cook2Connect campaign, helping to raise valuable funds. Every dollar donated allows us to deliver two meals to Australians in need.”

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Australia, OzHarvest has:

  • Diverted 13,311,880 kgs of food from landfill via its Food Rescue program
  • Provided 48,602,772 meals to food insecure Australians
  • Created 892,487 cooked meals for food insecure Australians
  • Plated up throughout September and October, the digital campaign will see culinary icons such as Manu and Clarissa Feildel, Jason Roberts, Tom Walton, and more provide home cooks with nourishing recipes to connect with loved ones and give back to the community.

The #Cook2Connect culinary vignettes, presented in short-film style, will bring viewers inside the chefs’ kitchens. Each will show how to prepare dishes that are personally meaningful to the chef, while they share the intimate memories behind the meals.

Amidst record levels of loneliness and food insecurity, the videos will also have a timely call to action. Audiences will be inspired to share a meal with a loved one and make a donation to OzHarvest, to help provide a meal to those in need.

“Cook2Connect’s ‘Share a Plate with a Mate’ is a creative and practical way to help Australians re-engage with the community, following what has been a particularly lonely time for many. I am really proud to be a part of this important cause,” said Manu Fieldel.

Research from the University of Oxford revealed that the more people eat with others, the more likely they are to feel less loneliness and stress, and more happiness and connection.

“It’s no secret that community is not what it used to be. The village is gone and many people find themselves alone in our globalised single-order delivery society, yet right under the surface of the mental health pandemic is a vaccine that’s tested and approved over millennia – sharing food together,” said Byron Keane, General Manager of Content at MGI Entertainment.

#Cook2Connect ‘Share a Plate with a Mate’ is supported by a range of iconic Australian food and cooking brands including Perfection Fresh, D’Orsogna, Kenwood, Nature Nate’s Honey, NH Foods Australia, Patak’s, Rio Vista Olives, and TEFAL with more supporters to be announced soon.

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