SAM Award-winning country singer Jessica Wishart has co-founded a company that will deliver quality food to regional communities, to address the expensive and poor-quality produce available in rural areas.
Musician Jessica Wishart is tackling food insecurity with Kere to Country
South Australians know Bidjara woman Jessica Wishart for her country music tackling First Nations issues.
In an effort to do more for Aboriginal communities, Jessica recently co-founded Kere to Country, with her brother Jordan Wishart and Thomas Hicks, to feed Indigenous communities affected by food insecurity.
The reason she believes the initiative will be successful is simple: “We’re Black”, she tells CityMag.
“There hasn’t been an Aboriginal person coming to do what we’re going to do, and there hasn’t been anyone using the model of what we’re doing.
“Our initiative is led by the community, so we’re not coming in making assumptions – we’re making sure that we’re actually delivering the service that they need and that they want and that they’re willing to pay for.”
Kere to Country aims to deliver bulk meat (supplied by South Australian beef and lamb producer Bullys Meat) and baked goods from local bakeries directly to the doors of people living in Alice Springs.
The goal is to cut out the middlemen – such as supermarkets or community stores – and make produce affordable for customers.
Clients sign up to a six-week payment plan, which allows them to incrementally pay off an order week-by-week. Once they’ve settled the bill, they’ll be delivered the goods.
Products include beef barbecue packs, chops and sausages, and delicious bakery delights.
“[The orders] will last a family [for] about six weeks, so they’re massive. They’re 50 kilos of beef and then they get a whole lamb,” Jessica says.
“Every second house has a deep freezer, but for the families that don’t have a deep freezer, we want to work with other services to be able to provide for them.”
The business will officially start offering delivery services at the beginning of 2021, but Jessica and her team are looking for sponsors to help finance and support the operation while it’s in set-up mode.
Corporate sponsorships start at $1,000 and individual donations begin at $50.
Listen to Jessica Wishart’s recently released single, ‘Colours’, below.
The idea for Kere to Country came to Jessica after a recent visit to Alice Springs.
She says she racked up an enormous bill grocery shopping for her family, which made her wonder what impact this would be having on other people in the community, particularly those without means.
“There are so many people in the communities that don’t have jobs because there’s no jobs down there, so how are they going to afford this meat?” Jessica says.
“Some Aboriginal families are paying over $85 for one kilogram of poor-quality mince.
“We rang up a couple of communities [and] we found that they just weren’t affording it. They couldn’t get it, so they were going without and they went days without meat. And that wasn’t uncommon.”
This was a frustrating realisation for Jessica, but she immediately reached out to the community with a desire to help solve the problem.
Community consultations and on-the-ground research led them to their current business model.
“Aboriginal people need to be empowered to solve our own issues and our own problems and this is a massive need,” Jessica says.
“There’s been a number of inquiries and a number of strategies developed by the government, yet we’re still facing this issue.”
In May, the Federal Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt, asked Federal Parliament to launch an investigation into food pricing and food security for remote Indigenous communities. The inquiry welcomed submissions up until June this year, and will present its final report this month.
Jessica says she’s asked both the Northern Territory and Australian governments for funding, but says Kere to Country is waiting on the report until any money is allocated. In the meantime, she’s hoping sponsors will roll in to help.
In addition to launching her business, Jessica also has a new album about to drop.
She sees herself as both an entrepreneur and a musician, and plans to eventually relocate to the Northern Territory to oversee the operation of Kere to Country.
She also wants to foster a music community there.
“I really want to bring some arts back to the NT, so I’m looking at doing some music projects on the side here in Alice when I’m out in the communities, and just get some new acts up here,” she says.
“They like live music, but we don’t have much choice here and we don’t have a big variety. We don’t have many people travelling up here to put on shows, so we need to get that happening. So I’m looking forward to working in that space as well.”