Shanaka Fernando

Lentil as Anything

Lentil As Anything aims to provide food without borders: without borders of race or gender, finance or social status. It is a multicultural, refugee-friendly, organisation and was registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission in 2000.

There are currently four Lentil locations, the first of which opened in 2000 in St. Kilda and the largest being located at the former Abbotsford Convent.  The most recent restaurant opened in the Melbourne suburb of Thornbury in 2015, and seven other locations have opened and later closed in the group's history.

Lentil As Anything restaurants and grocery store have no set prices. Everyone is welcome to come for a meal and contribute in any way they can. Some people volunteer their time in the kitchen or on the floor, others leave a financial donation in one of the contribution boxes. All leave with the feeling that they are part of an inclusive community. Many of the people working at Lentil As Anything are volunteers.

Members of the community who volunteer for a meal, to learn hospitality skills, or improve their social or language skills. The under-employed, the homeless, refugees and the disenfranchised are all given an equal opportunity to gain skills and help their fellow humans at Lentil As Anything.

Shanaka Fernando is the founder of Lentil as Anything. Originally from Sri Lanka, Shanaka opened the first Lentil As Anything in 2000 and has been increasingly involved in projects addressing social justice issues. In 2007 Shanaka was awarded Australia’s Local Hero/Social Challenger at Australian of the Year Awards. He lives in Melbourne with his wife and four children.