Lentil as Anything is a unique not for profit community organisation. At our core are the pay as you feel restaurants where customers give what they feel the food is worth and have the opportunity to contribute towards a world where respect, generosity, trust, equality, freedom and kindness rule.
Our philosophy has been working successfully for over 13 years now, with three long-standing restaurants in Abottsford convent, St Kilda and Footscray, a growing involvement in education and ongoing community projects.
Our restaurants: how it works
Come to one of our restaurants for lunch or dinner or even breakfast at Abbotsford convent (everyday, 9-11:30) and in St Kilda (weekends only, 10:30-12)
Choose what you’d like to eat
Enjoy a delicious meal, have a chat, listen to some music in a warm community space
Reflect on your feeling and decide how much you want and can contribute to this unique experience, and put some money in one of our magic boxes in the restaurant.
Be part of a unique financial model that is centred on the values of trust, generosity and respect that gives people the opportunity to eat out and be social regardless of their financial situation. Why do we do this? Because Everyone has a right to feel valued and respected, money should help bring people together not divide us.
We would love to welcome you as part of our community. We extend our hospitality offering you vegetarian cuisine cooked with love and gratitude. Our unique financial model relies on your generosity in order to pay our rent, utilities, wages and stock.
Caring for people: Provide a wholesome and nutritious meal where money is not a concern.
Promoting Multiculturalism: Fostering an environment of inclusion and not exclusion.
Reforming Society: Acting on the structures of society to restore justice.
Extending/Spreading it’s ethos and values: Hiring volunteers, the long-term unemployed and the marginalised.
Encouraging: Young people to be active citizens and get involved in community based initiatives.
Human Dignity: Respecting the sanctity of life and affirm the worth and capacity of all people.
Justice: Acting with integrity and fairness, without discrimination, and being an advocate for the disadvantaged by managing all resources responsibly.
Hope: Work for reconciliation, healing and transformation of all people.
Compassion: Engaging others in the spirit of inclusion and addressing their needs.
Community: Owing our common humanity as we engage with people, working and journeying together, for mutual capacity building.
Lentil as Anything began in 2000 at St Kilda. Its founder was living in a tent. At the time, money was influencing the trends in the community, leaving many disenchanted. Lentil as Anything aimed to re-engage those who where left behind. It seemed that money was often a barrier to people participating. It was decided that we would have no fixed prices for food. Instead of a cash register, a box was placed on the counter. We used the money left in the box to run the restaurant. Money became a unifying force. Trust began to feel at home. The quest to prove that the inherent goodness in everyone is an abundant resource is alive and growing – with every meal.
|2000||First Lentil as Anything opened by Shanaka Fernando in St Kilda|
|2001||Kitchen was run by Moksha – a polish Jew 67 years young who had cooked in an ashram in India for 17 years. Moksha lived in a cardboard humpy in the back of the restaurant.|
|2005||Lentil as Africa opens to provide Muslim African women with the skills to run their own restaurant. Win AMES Community Contribution award.|
|Lentil as Anything Abbotsford opens and Lentil as Anything becomes incorporated non-profit organisation.|
|2006||Lentil as Anything awarded diversity at work award for the employment and inclusion of culturally and linguistically diverse Australians.|
|2007||Lentil won a private ruling with the Australian Tax Office – exempting the pay as you feel philosophy from having to pay GST.|
|Shanaka Fernando (Founder of Lentil as Anything) awarded Australian of the year award as local hero.|
|2008||Lentil as Anything is invited to run the Collingwood College. First vegetarian – pay as you feel canteen in Australia or in the world. Jewish Democratic society hosted for its annual Dinner and is cooked by a palestinian refugee in the restaurant.|
|2009||We introduce African food to Victoria Wimmera Region accompany 100 or so people from refugee backgrounds to plant trees, cook, dance and spend the weekend with farming families.|
|Lentil as Anything Footscray opens at Barkly Hotel.|
|2011||Lentil’s first money box is displayed at Museum of Democracy, Canberra because it gives people the freedom to eat as equals. Freedom and equality is the foundation of Democracy.|
|“Lentil as Anything: Food, Culture, Community” book launched.|