Brothers do good for mental health
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INTERVIEW

Brothers do good for mental health

Brothers Daniel and David Rifkin are on a mission to make us nosh with purpose, creating Do Good Labs, a social enterprise which combines healthy food and helping people in need.

Brothers David (left) and Daniel Rifkin started Do Good Labs, creating healthy snack food with a strong mental health message.
Brothers David (left) and Daniel Rifkin started Do Good Labs, creating healthy snack food with a strong mental health message.

David Rifkin speaks with The AJN

Q: Tell us about Do Good Labs, and its purpose.

Do Good Labs was set up to be a vehicle for the nation to snack for good. Each snack has motivational messages to help Aussies through COVID and 50 per cent of our profits are donated to local charity groups, helping those who are less fortunate. Our purpose is to raise awareness and funds for mental health as we believe no one can help everyone. but everyone can help someone – through random acts of kindness (mitzvahs). 

Q: What inspired you to start Do Good Labs and why did you feel compelled to incorporate a large socially conscious element?

On Maccabiah we saw a group in Israel called Ze Ze that started social businesses helping the community. 50 per cent of their profits were used to start the next social project. We knew this was a quantum shift in philanthropy that would help the world in a profound way: No dependence on donors but rather the people purchasing goods and services as they normally would. We saw firsthand the amazing impact they were having and the unique engagement with young adults. 

Q: Why did you specifically choose to champion mental health?

Daniel was finishing his PhD in health leadership and as a pharmacist over many years he saw the rampant rise of mental illness. Almost one in two (45 per cent) of Australian adults are affected by mental illness in their lifetime and suicide is the leading cause of death among people aged 15-44 in Australia. We lost a friend which became a primary motivator to make a difference. 

Losing a friend to mental illness was a primary motivator for David and Daniel in supporting mental health organisations.

While consulting with Virgin Australia there was an opportunity to educate millions of passengers on mental wellbeing while reading their snack packs. We then started working with leading mental health charities, including R U OK? and the Black Dog Institute and realised the importance of awareness and the need to shine a light on the great work they were doing, while addressing the limited education of the public on this silent epidemic. 

Q: Do you see a Jewish aspect entwined in what you do? 

We crossed paths with Rabbi Menachem Wolf in Melbourne when we started the Labs and were inspired by his weekly Friday “Snapple facts” lessons – values from the Torah that showed the power of doing good. We worked with “Rabbs” to get these messages on the back of millions of packets that have motivated many. 

Q: How has COVID-19 impacted your business?

Virgin Australia are a major client, so as Virgin flights were grounded we lost our business overnight. We reached out to all the retailers and could not believe the support we received for our project. In a space of 12 weeks we diversified our business and rolled out to Woolies, Coles, ALDI, Coles Express and Boost Juice. 

Do Good Labs is now available on the ground across the country helping communities get through COVID. 

This summer we are on track to donate 500,000 meals to people in need (through OzHarvest), raise $60,000 for Camp Quality to support children and their families living with cancer, and support 20,000 youth to get the mental health services they need.

Q: What is your ultimate goal? What do you hope your business achieves?

We hope to empower people to check in with a mate through random acts of kindness. Everyone should know they’re not alone. Our “big matzah ball goal” is to take Do Good Labs global as we want to help as many communities as possible around the world. 

There is something powerful about helping local communities – grassroots on the ground, because then everyone who needs help, will soon be helped!

For more information on Do Good Labs, visit dogoodlabs.com.au.

Crisis support services can be reached 24 hours a day: Lifeline 13 11 14; Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467; Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636.

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