“St Ali have been involved in CafeSmart from the start. Owner, Salvatore, helped with initial talks about developing the idea and stepped up as a key supporter. They are involved as a Roaster and have 8 cafes of their own signed up. They also have a further 22 wholesale customers signed up. They deserve a big thanks for helping from the start”.
- Adam Robinson, CafeSmart Founder
We chatted with Lachlan Ward, the General Manager of Retail at St Ali, who are one of the longest serving contributors to CafeSmart.
We wanted to find out what CafeSmart means to him, to St Ali and what others in the industry might be able to learn from this enduring contribution.
Image credit: internationalcoffeeexpo.com
What do you think others in the hospitality industry can learn from Salvatore’s example in helping CafeSmart to get off the ground?
"We’ve been there from day dot, and we are a fairly recognisable name in the cafe and coffee space. Most people want to get behind charities, but it’s sometimes too hard to integrate into how they run their business from day to day. That’s something that Sal and Adam (founder of StreetSmart) worked hard to achieve in the early days.
Now when CafeSmart rolls around every year it’s very easy for us to drum up the support and get the cafes into gear and get a really good customer response to it.
That means our role has got to be standing on the soap box and trying to get as many of our cafe and wholesale customers behind it as we can. I see us as someone who grows things, raising more awareness for a great cause".
Why should people care about CafeSmart?
"It's probably the easiest way you can contribute to a greater cause. Coffee is part of most people’s daily habits, which makes it a nice, easy way to get behind a fantastic cause.
Generally, people should care because in a city like Melbourne it’s becoming a bigger and bigger problem".
What role do you see the community playing in solving homelessness?
"We live in a democracy so a lot of these changes need to come from the grassroots. Through community involvement in stuff like this or getting involved whether it’s through your local MP or whoever.
I think we’ve all got to take responsibility for it, not just the people in the seats of power. I think we might not feel like it, but we’ve got the power to enact change so I think the community can have a hand in fixing the problem".
Who do you think has a part to play in making homelessness a thing of the past?
"All of us. We can’t push it up the food chain. We’ve all got to do our part and get behind it. Whether it’s getting behind a cause like this, writing a letter to your MP or voting a certain way. There are a number of ways to do it.
Unfortunately a lot of people see doing their part as dropping a couple of dollars in the lap of someone experiencing homelessness when they walk past them in the street - but that’s a short term fix. We can do more".
How do you feel about the fact that the money raised goes directly to the community in which it is raised?
"I think that’s awesome and a great point of difference. I think sometimes when looking at charities and organisations the problem can seem quite distant. We’re lucky we live in an affluent society.
At least in our case, cafes are the new local pubs. Customers know their baristas, they know the staff and the staff know them - it’s a little bit of a community hub.
So I think the fact that the cash goes back to that community is a fantastic way to show that those little extra dollars go a long way and make a real change in the area that you either live or work in. I think it's a great way to structure it and a great way for people to see change from their contributions".
What would you say to cafe owners or roasters who are thinking about joining CafeSmart?
"Oh do it! It’s a day of the year. Your point of sale, it records everything. It's no real burden on a cafe to do it and that’s the beauty of it. So get behind it, there is really no excuse. Fly the banner behind a great cause and help do something".
If you want to join the fight against homelessness, you can find your nearest CafeSmart cafe here. This will only work for those on an iPhone right now.