10/10/2006 - 22:00

Not for profit: Bean Aid ready to hit the spot

10/10/2006 - 22:00

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A much-maligned foodstuff it may be, but to aid agencies the humble baked bean is a versatile and highly sought-after commodity.

Not for profit: Bean Aid ready to hit the spot

A much-maligned foodstuff it may be, but to aid agencies the humble baked bean is a versatile and highly sought-after commodity.   

Last week, Curtin University of Technology launched its SPC Bean Aid campaign, which aims to collect 200,000 cans of baked beans for Foodbank WA, to be held at the university grounds on Sunday October 29.  

The campaign intends to raise awareness of hunger in the community and will provide cans of baked beans for the Foodbank school breakfast program, with the remainder to be distributed to more than 700 agencies for emergency food relief.

According to Foodbank WA CEO Doug Paling, beans are the third most requested food item behind bread and milk, valued for their nutrition and long shelf life.

“It’s one of the most nutritionally valuable foods that we can’t get through normal channels” Mr Paling said.

“The great thing about beans is they’re low cost but with a high food value. Therefore, we’re reasoning that even people with not much money can help.”

The school breakfast program provides more than 17,000 meals to children in 190 schools throughout Western Australia each week, including remote communities in the Western Desert, Pilbara and the Kimberley.

“Around 50 per cent of those in need around the country are children. And they’re suffering in circumstances not of their making,” Mr Paling said.

The program’s benefits are already becoming evident, according to Mr Paling.

“Academic improvements have already resulted from the program,” he said.

“We’re doing something in a fun way but with a serious message. I think people will have a great deal of fun participating.

“We’re aiming to put WA and Curtin on the world map.”

The campaign will be the inaugural function for the Big Event Campaigns, to be held annually at Curtin University, and will include entertainment, food and craft markets, children’s activities and Mr Bean movies. 

Before the cans are dispensed to Foodbank, an attempt will be made to beat the Guinness World Record for the longest line of aluminium cans, set at 63,877 cans in Quebec, Canada, in October 2005.

A series of canned bean collections has been running since July, with Coles supermarkets working in collaboration with SPC to reduce the price of beans and acting as collection centres.     

A twilight concert will be headlined by Deni Hines and will feature Nathan Gaunt and African music group, Akwaaba.

Those seeking hands-on participation will not be disappointed, with community artist Alison Brayford co-ordinating the ‘Canstruction’ Challenge, an event which will involve teams creating sculptures using cans of baked beans, competing for a $500 cash prize.

Ms Brayford will also construct a ‘Spiral of Life’, an ancient Egyptian symbol of growth and expansion, on the Curtin rugby field using 100,000 cans of baked beans.

A celebrity cook-off between Don Hancey and Peter Manifis, assisted by ABC’s Russell Woolf and 6PR’s Howard Sattler, will entertain fans for 45 minutes, as the teams prepare four dishes featuring beans.

Verity James will act as MC for the ‘SPC Battle of the Beans’, to be judged by Ian Parmenter and the ‘Gourmet Godfathers’ John Maiorana and Vince Garreffa.

Vietnam veterans and school cadets have been recruited to assist students from Curtin and other volunteers with organising the event, which is sponsored by SPC and supported by the Town of Victoria Park, City of South Perth and City of Canning, as well as Coles supermarkets.

Entry is free, although attendees are requested to bring a can of baked beans.

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