Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Shanaka Fernando

a Biblical thought...
God's Spirit is on me; he's chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor, Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, To set the burdened and battered free, to announce, "This is God's year to act!" (Luke 4:19-20)

a Book thought...
Only the disciplined can direct their efforts and maximise their strength sufficiently to overcome obstacles, endure hardship and do risky things that pilgrims must. (p41 Needham)
a Dave thought...
SEVEN years after opening his first venture, Shanaka Fernando — the man behind the not-for-profit restaurant Lentil as Anything — has gone one step further.
He has taken his idea of healthy, no-price food to school, opening an off-shoot at Collingwood College's school canteen.
Like its St Kilda parent, the restaurant asks students to pay what they think the meals are worth.
Barely a week after opening in the school's old canteen area, prices were still a question for many of the 485 prep to year 12 students.
Some checked with their peers before dropping money into one of the buckets, while others watched what those ahead were doing. Still unable to break the habit, many asked for prices before ordering.
But Mr Fernando, named a Local Hero in the Australia Day awards last year for his non-profit, socially responsible restaurants, admits that he, too, is on a learning curve, adapting a menu to children's tastes.
"It's been an education process on both sides of the counter," he said. "Taste is the priority because if you get that right, then the students won't even realise they are eating healthy food. But last week I met my first kid who didn't like mangoes."
The food varies daily, and reflects the school's multicultural population — about a third of its students speak English as a second language. This week alone the menu includes buriyani rice, Japanese pancakes, Singapore noodles and Moroccan hot pot. Like the five other outlets, the kitchen is staffed by refugees from such places as Nepal and Sudan.
Students can buy weekly drink or meal vouchers, but so far paying on the spot has proved most popular, as students want to be seen to be contributing.
They are also pulling their weight by clearing dirty plates from tables. Some, like year 8 student Jeremiah Vandan, 13, even volunteer to serve drinks at lunchtime.
"It makes you feel very socially involved and it's just a nice feeling to be helping," he said between dishing out mango lassies, iced chocolates and glasses of yoghurt drizzled with honey.
Collingwood College assistant principal Stanley Fernando said that with almost no packaging on the food sold, this year would see a dramatic reduction in playground litter.
But he expected the benefits of the new canteen would extend into the classroom as well, with students no longer sluggish after a deep-fried lunch or overactive due to an artificial sugar rush.
"One would hope that after a nutritious meal the kids would be much more alert and ready for their afternoon classes," he said.

I have been following Shanaka (pictured in the middle) for the last 7 years, and the man continues to impress me. Why? Because he has the courage to set up a venture in a contrasting way to the rest of society and when he gets criticised or the doubters come he does it his way anyway. In support of this guy let's all go out to "Lentil as Anything" for dinner tonight and pay him well.

Just a thought.

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