Adelaide founder shares delicious journey from student to social entrepreneur

16 August 2021

CQUniversity's Festival of Change 2021 has served up plenty of food for thought' including an Adelaide event showcasing the gourmet growth of local social enterprise The Foodprint Experience.

CQUni alumnus Melissa Rayner founded the café and catering company in 2017' beginning the design as part of her Permaculture studies.

This month the determined changemaker returned to CQUni Adelaide for The Foodprint Experience Breakfast on Wednesday 4 August' with staff' students and community members connecting for the campus event.

Ms Rayner shared the sustainable impacts of the business' including a menu featuring foods that average just 42-kilometre travel distance from producer to plate.

"That average includes a few items that we can only source from overseas' so a lot of what we're preparing is hyper-local – our eggs and dairy' and a lot of our fruit and veg are within Adelaide itself' and our herbs are from our kitchen garden!"

Ms Rayner founded The Foodprint Experience after seeing inequality and injustice on her travels around the world' and her work in hospitality.

Now' the past 12 months operating through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic' she's seen the importance of local connection and community to ensure the whole of society can thrive.

"We had to pivot quite a bit when restrictions have impacted the caf̩ Рfor instance we started selling ready-made meals' and also donating meals to OzHarvest to help people get through'" she explained.

"And those initiatives got a lot of our customers' who get really excited about what we do' and the fact we have an environmental ethos."

Ms Rayner said the CQUni event highlighted the potential that everyone has to create social change.

"The past few years have taught me' it's the small opportunities that can make a big difference – and what we've built with The Foodprint Experience really proves that potential for big impact."

As well as prioritising sustainable food' The Foodprint Experience mentors people struggling to find employment' through its partnership with OzHarvest and Housing Choice SA.

Last year' that included 800 hours of work experience' and 120 hours of paid work.

"The support we see from the community is certainly driven by our purpose' and the impact we have'"
Ms Rayner said.

Located at 111 Franklin St in Adelaide's CBD' The Foodprint Experience café also invites customers to "pay forward" a drink or meal' with more than $8000 worth of food provided to locals doing it tough in the past year.

'Foodprint' refers to the environmental impact or footprint of food' including land required to sustain the crop' carbon dioxide produced' and whether the food is organic and local.

Ms Rayner also calculates that the café was able to compost 1.5 tonnes of waste in the past year' and 82 per cent of all waste produced by the café is diverted from landfill.

In 2019' The Foodprint Experience was recognised as Adelaide's Best Green Business in City of Adelaide's City Awards.

The Festival of Change is CQUniversity's national learning festival' which celebrated social innovation and impact across 26 July – 6 August 2021.

This year's events attracted more than 500 participants on campus and online' and featured other CQUni alumni who have founded social enterprises' while completing CQUniversity's iActivate online course to take social enterprise from idea to impact.

Find out more at cqu.edu.au/iactivate.