Meet STREAT: A Circular Economy Innovation Fund grant recipient

Published: 20 March 2023
A croissant on a black plate and a pot of jam are on a wooden table.

STREAT is a social enterprise that supports vulnerable young people across Victoria. Its core purpose is to help young people thrive by providing them with wraparound care, training and pathways to employment in the hospitality sector.

It runs 8 cafes across Melbourne, a coffee roastery, an artisan bakery, and a catering and functions business. Its headquarters doubles as an events space in Collingwood in Melbourne’s inner north.

STREAT has supported over 3,114 young people and provided 241,226 hours of training, support and work experience. Six months after completion, 76% of STREAT graduates are still in employment, education or training. STREAT also takes its environmental sustainability action as seriously as its social justice work. From its inception STREAT named its 3 focus areas: people, planet and performance.

“We exist to create long-term impact for young people, and having a liveable planet is core to that,”
Bec Scott, the CEO who co-founded STREAT in 2009.

“It also makes no sense to do social good and environmental harm. And in this time of climate crisis, we also believe strongly that all work needs to be climate work, no matter what industry you’re working within.

“We think of them as the strands of our organisation’s DNA.”

In 2018 STREAT upped its environmental work and developed its first Planet Plan.

“It’s a decade-long strategy to catalyse far greater environmental work in collaboration with others,” says Scott.

“For example, we’ve moved beyond just having green business operations to also kickstarting youth training and employment pathways into green industries such as horticulture and urban farming.

“We’re also building bigger projects and collaborations within the food system. We want to be green catalysts.”

In 2021, STREAT received $396,000 as part of Sustainability Victoria’s Circular Economy Business Innovation Centre’s (CEBIC) Innovation Fund. The grant allowed STREAT to further develop its Open Sauce project, part of its Moving Feast initiative.

Moving Feast is a collective of food social enterprises, led by STREAT. It started in 2020 during the pandemic when its venues and training centre were forced to close. Its initial aim was to cook, grow and deliver food to vulnerable people during the pandemic.

Moving Feast's mission has broadened and now its goal is to build a sustainable, fair, regenerative and connected food system that also diverts food waste from landfill. This system is known as “an ecosystem of solutions”.

“The CEBIC grant came at exactly the right time and enabled us to share and optimise our collective skills, infrastructure and resources to start the development of circular food products,” says Elise Bennetts, STREAT’s Deputy CEO and Chief Relationships Officer.

“The Open Sauce project and Moving Feast are about bringing together as many like-minded food social enterprises as we can,” says Bennetts.

It’s also about seeing food waste as a precious resource – an example of STREAT’s “deeper shades of green” ethos.

Open Sauce uses food that was previously going to compost to make pickles and preserves.

“We might be sending something to recycling, but the deeper shade of green is to make a long-shelf-life product that can be recycled and resold,”
Elise Bennetts
A man holding a pot of watermelon pickle. The STREAT jams are made in-house by their kitchen and roastery teams in Collingwood, Victoria, and all proceeds go back into their training and support programs.

The watermelon-rind pickle is the Open Sauce hero product. “Before, all the watermelon rind was going into our compost. Then our chefs came up with watermelon rind pickle,” says Bennetts. “Sitting on a cheese platter, there’s nothing better.”

The funding from Sustainability Victoria has also meant that Open Sauce can make use of glut products, going a deeper shade of green again.

“We worked with farmers from around Victoria,” says Bennetts. “Any time they have glut products that were potentially going back into the ground they call us. That’s where the strawberry, raspberry, and plum preserves came from.”

Working with glut product can be tricky. A lot of it comes in small quantities, often not enough to make using it in Open Sauce preserves viable.

“And glut product is last-minute,” says Bennetts, “which means without a freezer, our production kitchen can’t take that product immediately.

“With the grant from CEBIC we've bought a walk-in freezer, which has allowed us to save produce to make the products. And that has been extraordinary.”

STREAT has just launched a bigger site at Queen Victoria Market – the next, bigger phase of Open Sauce and Moving Feast. “Without Sustainability Victoria’s funding we couldn’t have gotten to this stage,” says Bennetts.

Open Sauce now has a Business Development Manager, funded in part by the CEBIC Innovation Fund grant, taking care of all of its retail – mostly wholefoods stores.

A person holding 2 white buckets of food waste. The Innovation Fund has also allowed STREAT to undertake waste audits on its social enterprises and project partners.

The next phase is about upskilling other social enterprises, particularly in the environmental and food spaces.

“We’re just warming up,” says Scott. “Over the next couple of years, we anticipate having dozens of collaborators making hundreds of new circular products right across Victoria.”