We’ve all enjoyed the catering provided after a Rogaining event, maybe during a 24-hour one, and you might even have helped out in the kitchen at an event.  Have you participated in an event (particularly since COVID) where catering has not been provided?

Food or no food at events! Does it matter to you either way?

The reason I’m asking… is that we are at something of fork in the road as far as catering at Rogaine events is concerned.

Background

When I started Rogaining about 25 years ago, every event was catered for by our own volunteers using our own custom-built catering trailer full of equipment.

Over the years it has become increasingly difficult to get our members to do the catering and we have drifted into sub-contracting the task to other volunteer groups who use it as a fund raising exercise. We have had such a relationship with 1st Waitara Scouts for a number of years. However it is not at all clear that we will be able to continue this arrangement. Nor do we know of any other group who might be interested.

A second issue is that our catering trailer and much of the equipment needs to be replaced. The current trailer is large and heavy, and requires a large vehicle (Ute or Landcruiser) to tow it safely. We struggle to find volunteers with suitable vehicles to tow the trailer to and from events.

Up to now we have preferred, as an organisation, to have the assurance of knowing that we could provide a fully equipped kitchen for a bush event that could be used either by our own volunteers or a third party. But now that we are up for significant costs to replace equipment, the question needs to be asked, “Is it worth it?”

Mike Hotckis used the catering trailer for a podium – at Cookbundoon 24-hr 1998

Future Catering Possibilities

The following scenarios may not be exhaustive, but seem to me to be the options available to us:

  1. We try and find a third party provider with their own equipment. There is no guarantee we will be successful. Catering costs may rise or the service reduce. If we are unsuccessful, go to 3 and 4 below.
  2. We renew our catering equipment to make it more attractive for third parties to deliver catering for us. If we can’t find third party providers and our own members don’t step up and volunteer then we’ve done our dough and we have equipment in storage slowly deteriorating. We will probably need to hire a suitable vehicle to tow the new trailer if members don’t volunteer.
  3. We purchase ready-to-eat bakery items and don’t do any food preparation. And we don’t replace any catering equipment.
  4. We give up on catering at events. Maybe this doesn’t matter much at metropolitan events. Does it matter to you at bush events?

Please give us your views on this. We would like to to make decisions based on members preferences.

The matter has some urgency as we consider catering options for the Autumngaine on 8th May at Belanglo.

Richard Sage (NSWRA Committee)

19 Responses

  1. Having catering at events has always been great. At the end of a working week it’s great as a contestant to be able to take off to events knowing all the post event food is taken care of. Makes it a lot easier

  2. No catering would not stop me attending an event, but absolutely love coming to a hot meal at the end of a race!

  3. Can we just have a BBQ with cheese Toasted sandwiches… super simple, cheap, delicious and pretty much what I look forward to the most. Also agree catering is amazing but wouldn’t sway me from attending events if it stopped

  4. Food has been a big part of our family rogaining experience and was certainly encouraged our girls to continue to rogaine, and finishing an event with food is something to look forward too. It also helped attract other friends to try rogaining. That said I don’t believe full meal catering is necessary. Cheese toasties sausage/ vegie burger sangas, and cake/fruit is just as good. For that we would only require bbq equipment (all so suggest pier warmers as that allows commercial food to be bought and keep the snags hot). I believe this would cut down on the bulk/weight for the trailer

  5. Also there are food standards. From the FSANZ website:

    “Charity and community groups, temporary events and home-based businesses are exempt from some of the requirements in the food safety standards. These groups and businesses can contact their local enforcement authority for further information”

    Our local enforcement authority would be the NSW food authority.

    Getting definitive information from them on what is/isn’t allowed is difficult. Doing our own catering seems to be covered. Using external groups like 1st Waitara, the local RFS or SES, Rotary, etc, is much less clear cut.

  6. Thank you for explaining these logistics. My thought would be 1) no purchase of replacement catering equipment, 2) if possible hire catering equipment (as per portaloos, etc) in association with whatever a willing catering crew provides/requires, 3) provide alternative ‘cuisine’ based on capacity (volunteers, expertise and logistics of the site). Variation from event to event is ok. Warm meals on long, cold nights is heavenly.

  7. I have a couple of related questions … how much of our entry fee is related to the catering cost, and how much would our entry fee be reduced if food is not provided?

  8. I have very much enjoyed the food provided at the events I have attended. However, a cheese toasty and hot drink is really all that’s desired. I run a volunteer group and it is sometimes impossible to get helpers so I appreciate all the hassle relating to ‘extra’ services. If there are no volunteers or if it is more trouble than its worth, then its easy enough for people to bring their own things. I only do the 6 hour events and generally only those within a reasonable drive to home or accommodation (don’t camp). Maybe that makes a difference?

  9. For local, shorter events, basic catering is enough (jaffles, bbq, cold pre packed). People can get their own food nearby if they want. For longer events in the bush, hot meals are very welcome – possibly even an OH&S requirement especially when camping. Also meals are a social opportunity to interact with other teams.

    I wouldn’t replace the trailer. Plenty of catering companies around for the couple of remote events each year. Another thought, get a food truck or two, could be user pays.

  10. Out team travel usually between 4-6 hrs for the event and so would look forward to the BBQ But a toasty and a drink or soup wold be great also I think most teams would donate to the volunteer group providing the food. Love rogaining and no BBQ would not stop us from competing

  11. I’d be really disappointed to see the end of catering at Rogaines. Hot food in the dead of a freezing winter’s night has saved me more than once. It’s definitely part of the experience for me. Just knowing there’s a hot meal waiting helps me keep going. And All Night Cafes are the best, because usually we can fit it into our route plan and usually it’s in the wee hours of the morning.

  12. I am with the majority here hot drinks and a simple BBQ is all that is required and let’s face it any hot food is a godsend when you are out in the bush for a while. As a regular competitor I would be very happy to add to the very reasonable fees to cover this cost. It would definitely not stop me Rogaining but the enjoyment factor would be a little tarnished.

  13. We definitely love having hot food especially on the longer events. I echo comments above that soups/stews are much appreciated in the middle of a freezing night. Having volunteered as part of a catering team (in Victoria a long time ago, as MUMC used to organise an event a year), I acknowledge the amount of work that goes into it.

  14. While not a regular competitor, I do enjoy a hot meal at the end. Keeping catering simple such as a sausage sandwich, cup of soup, tea & coffee might make things easier. I would still compete if no food was provided but with a meal, the social aspect afterwards , is a nice finish to the day.

  15. For me personally if there is no all night cafe (or an obvious way to return in the middle of the night to the hash house for a feed ) then it is not really worth going on the rogaine at all . That hour or half hour feed in the dead of the night makes it all worth while. the best all night cafe ever was in Tasmania in Nov 2019 at the tiny historic community hall . Do i ever remember the long trudge up a ridge line in the dark ? No . But do i remember the All Night Cafe ? Yes

  16. It was great experience for me as a scout getting to volunteer at events like this and raise funds for my group. Great social scene at the end of the rogain. Worth keeping these networking opportunities as they hold the community together and creates opportunities for innovation in society. Brilliant idea to connect with the scouts and similar, and promotes the sport. COVID makes it hard to forsee the future of catering but it’s clear that hygiene is essential. So a good opportunity to get new equipment that’s really hygienic and clever. Win win win. Look for grants to get the funds.

  17. On the bush events when we get back late its great to have some hot food and drink and lots of cordial to rehydrate. I would usually be too tired to cook much myself.
    We always try and fit in the all night cafe if there is one. More than once they have re-energized us.
    Food at the end could be more basic if necessary – a bbq with sausage, egg and bacon sandwiches or buns, with an urn for hot drinks.
    In an ideal world things would continue as they have in the past, especially for longer events, but I can see that may not be possible. If anyone lives in a marginal electorate maybe they could get the government to chip in some money!

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