What is Open Table?

Open Table is a charitable organisation that shares free community lunches in different neighbourhoods throughout Melbourne using food that would otherwise go to waste.

When, where and how was Open Table founded?

Open Table was founded in early 2013 in Brunswick Victoria by a few like-minded individuals with the idea of reducing food waste and meeting the neighbours. We asked for lots of advice from our community, did some tests, burnt a quiche, learnt some recipes — and here we are now.

Where does the food come from?

The produce is donated from SecondBite, OzHarvest, local businesses and each neighbourhood — all of which would otherwise be wasted.

Can I come eat a free meal served by Open Table?

We exist primarily to reduce food insecurity, but of course this affects a large cross section of our community. We don’t turn anyone away from our lunches, instead making it an open and inclusive environment to make people feel welcome. Of course if you want to give back we never say no to help with the dishes!

Do I have to pay to eat?

All Open Table events are free, but we do accept donations through our website if you would like to give back and can afford it.

Do I have to RSVP?

Everyone is welcome, especially those in need of a meal and we do not take bookings or need an rsvp for our regular events. Occasionally we will host a special feast which may have limited seats, but we’ll make it clear.


Who pays for Open Table?

Open Table is organised by a growing collection of energetic volunteers. All food is donated. We are grateful for the wonderful support of both Moreland and Yarra City Councils which cover our operational costs.

Do I need to bring anything to the table?

BYO ideas and conversation starters, friends and family — and a container incase there are leftovers.

What’s on the menu?

Open Table cooks with what we’ve got so the menu is constantly changing. We serve vegetarian meals and endeavour to have vegan and gluten free options at each lunch. Speak to one of our volunteers if you have any dietary requirements.

How much food is wasted in Australia every year?

Approximately 8 billion dollars worth of food is wasted in Australian homes, based on conservative estimates — or 1 out of every 5 grocery bags. This doesn’t even include commercial waste from growers, distributors and providers. Take a look here for more info on the state of waste in Australia.

How is Open Table different to a soup kitchen?

The idea is simple — free food. What we do can be seen as a kind of soup kitchen, but we prefer not to think of it as a service. Open Table is a community feast — an opportunity to meet all kinds of neighbours, strengthen communities and redistribute food waste.

How can I get involved?

We welcome all helping hands. Have a chat with us on the day, or sign up online if you would like to volunteer.