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Sharing your nightly meal just got easier - September 16 2018 Northern Star Article:

A NEW concept created to reconnect neighbourhoods through home-cooked food will be launched in Mullumbimby this week.

Table360.org is a market place for home cooked food that will allow people to purchase portions of home cooked food prepared by their neighbours. The idea is to bring the taste of village life to neighbourhoods as locals by list portions of freshly prepared home cooked food, for sale through its web-based system.

Founder/director Selase Dugbaza invited all lovers of community in Mullumbimby to get on board.

"The idea of Table360 is that when you don't feel like cooking, don't have the time, or want something different, you'll be able to search for "who's cooking extra" in your neighbourhood," Mr Dugbaza explained.

"The process of accessing the meal creates a natural opportunity for connection.

"The vision is to bring the feeling of village life to neighbourhoods by providing people with a reason to have simple, but frequent daily interactions with each other."

Through this level of interaction, Mr Dugbaza hoped social barriers will be broken down, neighbours will get to know each other, and neighbourhood bonds will be built.

"All the evidence from other community centred cultures where food trade exist at a local residential level is that social isolation and disconnection will decrease and fewer people will eat alone," he said.

The food listed on Table360.org. will not be "leftovers" but freshly cooked food, Mr Dugbaza stressed.

"People can pre-plan a meal and people can pre-purchase it by 1pm on Wednesday or Thursday, when they come it's freshly cooked, you just pick it up," he said.

"Or if it's a last-minute meal, you've just cooked you list it as that, people can search for who's cooking extra in my street and go and pick up."

"The lister sets the price and the reasonable set price covers the cost of ingredients and time and meeting their neighbour at the same time.

"The dual benefit is meeting people you wouldn't usually meet, and the people listing the food can make a little bit extra from their own time and effort."

Born in Ghana, West Africa Dugbaza moved to Australia in 1985 when he was eight-years-old with his family.

"I was living in Canberra, where I've lived for decades, but before moving here, I took a year off from my job in the public service in Canberra and lived in Indonesia for a year," he said.

"I really experienced community there. It was a very close knit neighbourhood community where people are interacting daily, simply through food trade and services.

"The community was safer because of it.

"I saw how rich and open the culture was and I decided to create Table360.org to try and create this sense of this community here." 

He said interest from listers and browsers was strong ahead of Table360.org's virtual launch on Saturday, September 22.

"I always say it trickles before it rains ... I've had lots of people reregistering and calls and emails about it," he said.

"I think it will build a life of its own as people experience something different.

"The phenomenon where people in poorer countries are often happier than their counterparts in the west, is because community and connection, supports their emotional and mental wellbeing, even though they have less money, because is best measured through social life.

"It's been demonstrated even drug addiction decreases with genuine social connection. So is it possible that the spiralling rates of youth and adult depression could be positively impacted by increasing the touch points between people and their neighbourhood community?

"There is no more frequent and repeated activity which could be used to connect people that when we eat."