The cafe that brings different cultures together

A cafe in Melbourne is bringing together immigrant women and university students to provide cooked meals to people far from their country of origin. This unusual partnership allows marketing students to improve their skills and provides jobs for immigrant women

Luisa Vitale left Samoa for Australia almost 30 years ago and barely spoke English at the time.

For years she took care of the family, but now she wants to build her career.

For almost eight months now, Vitale has been working at Meals with Impact, a cafe that offers immigrant and refugee women jobs to build their confidence and skills.

Vitale wants to open her own food business to help Samoans.

"When you come from Samoa you don't have anything here as immigrants, you don't even have food and things like that, so I want to open a business to help them," says Vitale.

The menu at Meals with Impact Cafe changes regularly to reflect the many cultures of the women it employs.

"They know how to multitask, they're amazing cooks," says Meals with Impact co-founder Nikki Blanch.

The idea behind the creation of Meals with Impact came during the COVID-19 pandemic, when there was a need for culturally appropriate dishes to feed migrant communities overcoming Melbourne's congestion in public housing.

The business network has now helped 40 immigrant women find work in local businesses.

Students from RMIT also helped the venture by researching and developing a marketing strategy.

Linda Truong has posted videos on social media to help the cafe.

"My origin is from an immigrant family and in this way I can somehow relate to it a little," explains the business student.

And beyond the cafe staff, customers are also here for something a little different.

"The spices they use are very nice," says customer Phillip Wong.