Locals can now get quality grocery items for considerably less than the cost of buying them at the supermarket, after the Mullumbimby Neighbourhood Centre opened a new community pantry.
The service, which is open every Monday, Tuesday and Friday between 10am and midday, has a wide variety of dry goods and other household basics, and requires nothing more than a $2 annual registration fee.
It stocks staples such as bread, milk, rice and tinned goods, as well as hygiene products and detergent.
The prices are up to 50 per cent cheaper than what the major local supermarkets are charging, and the service is available to all members of the local community, regardless of whether they are receiving welfare or not.
The co-ordinator of the service, Katie Tweedie, said staff had decided to open the pantry after the number of clients accessing food support at the centre had increased dramatically.
‘Since COVID-19, the numbers have gone through the roof,’ Ms Tweedie said.
‘There’s a whole range of people doing it tough.
‘We’ve got a lot of working poor in and around the town.
‘Just because you’ve got a job, doesn’t mean you’ve got much money left at the end of the week after you’ve paid your rent and other expenses’.
The stock in the pantry comes from the Food Bank – a Sydney-based charity that gathers quality, surplus food and then provides it to not-for-profits and charities across the country.
Ms Tweedie emphasised that the goods in the pantry were not only cheap but high quality.
‘There’s nothing in the pantry that I wouldn’t feed my family,’ she says.
‘Nothing is out of date, and I do the best I can to make sure all of the stock is of the highest quality.
‘It’s about the dignity of the people coming in.’
The centre is also looking to set up an online ordering service, so that clients can order and pay online, then collect their items at a time that’s convenient for them.