Former Masterchef judge, George Calombaris, has thrown his support behind the vital work of Matt’s Place community meals program. The celebrity chef delighted patrons during a visit to the Cheltenham venue last month.

“I’m blown away – the camaraderie, the support, the care, the love that is in this place … it’s insanely amazing and everyone at Matt’s Place should be so proud,” Calombaris said.

And with his two-tier restaurant – The Hellenic House Project – just around the corner, Calombaris has generously promised to return in 2024 to cook guests a delicious meal.

A charity fundraiser has packed a punch for the local community – helping raise much-needed funds for Matt’s Place.

“Fight for Care”, hosted by Brother Boxing at Cheltenham, saw enthusiasts unite for a worthy cause.

The sporting spectacle aimed at raising awareness about the important work of Bayside Community Care’s twice-weekly food program.

“We were looking for a local charity to partner with and support through our boxing event when we came across Matt’s Place last year,” Brother Boxing business owner Jack Hewitt said.

“We appreciate what they do in the community to assist people in need, and our boxing community wanted to help them out.

“We believe a strong community works together to help each other.

“This was the second fundraiser for Matt’s Place and we were totally blown away by people’s support and goodwill at the event.”

General manager Sandra Cavallo said the event couldn’t have come at a better time as demand at Matt’s Place’s two sites in Cheltenham and Chelsea continues to increase.

“We are so grateful to Jack and his team,” Ms Cavallo said.  “Rising costs are putting enormous strain on individuals and families. As a result, we see new people accessing our services weekly.”

Matt’s Place Cheltenham has seen an 84 per cent increase in attendance in the March quarter compared to last year.

Demand for food hampers also spiked by 91 per cent for the same period, steadying at 60 per cent for the March quarter.

While funding is sourced through local government grants, church donations and fundraising activities, Bayside Community Care appeals to the private sector to ensure Matt’s Place continues to have an impact.

Brother Boxing raised $8,500, which will help cover the running costs of Matt’s Place.

Bayside Community Care has sponsorship and partnership opportunities for any business that wishes to make a difference.

Matt’s Place Community Meals Program will reopen its doors for in-person dining in April.

The popular meals program in Cheltenham and Chelsea was forced to provide take away meals since the pandemic started in March 2020.

One of the highlights of the program is the social interaction and friendships that guests make eating together.

“We are delighted to be able to get back to some level of normality for our Matt’s Place guests since COVID-19 hit,” said Bayside Community Care Coordinator Amy Butler.

“Many of our guests have missed seeing their friends. We realised that Matt’s Place is more than just providing a home-cooked meal for many people, it’s providing connection and friendship and helping to overcome social poverty.”

Matt’s Place in Cheltenham at St Matthew’s Anglican will reopen for face to face dining on 8 April.