STAFF and volunteers at Leongatha Community House are delighted with their new kitchen, installed in the past couple of weeks.
The $8000 upgrade, funded by the South Gippsland Shire Council, has been a long time coming, according to the community house’s committee president Pat Dale, who says the original kitchen dated back to the 1950s or 60s.
“It had been left behind,” Pat said.
“It needed a complete replacement. The original kitchen was just one sink, which was dreadful, and a couple of standalone cupboards.
“Things had been patched up over the years but it was not up to standard. There was very little bench space for food preparation and the stove didn’t even have an exhaust fan.”
The committee had been saving money for the refurbishment for the past two years, but after seeking advice from the health inspector, they were able to convince the council to fund half the project.
Pat said the committee was told a new, commercial grade vinyl floor covering “didn’t fit within the [council’s] budget” but nevertheless, they’re “very grateful” for what the council has delivered.
“We got a lot more than we expected. And we didn’t get a lot of opposition from them. We were thinking we’d have to pay for the whole kitchen ourselves – it just had to be done – but we’d have been struggling to pay for the kitchen and the flooring,” she said.
Pat says the modern, safe, hygienic and spacious food preparation facilities will allow the community house to expand its already large offering of educational activities, with hopes to run some small cooking classes in the future.
“It would be wonderful to be able to offer classes teaching older people or unemployed people how to prepare simple, affordable meals.
“We’ve never been able to provide that sort of thing and this has really opened it up. There will be lots of new uses for the kitchen now that it’s up to standard,” she said.
The many groups that already use the house, including two Probus clubs and the dozens of people who attend classes there each semester, will also benefit from the improvements, which include a double sink for dishwashing, as well as a dedicated handwashing sink, ample bench space, lockable cupboards for safe storage of chemicals, and a new stove (with an exhaust fan).
“It is a budget kitchen but it’s much more suitable in terms of catering for large groups,” Pat said.
The kitchen and flooring are expected to be finished this week, and the committee will soon apply for a non-council grant to purchase a second, larger refrigerator, with plans for the community house to host an Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea to raise funds for the Cancer Council in June.