A PROGRAM providing low-cost grocery items to those in need has been launched in the Illawarra.
Anglicare’s Mobile Community Pantry van program has been operating throughout the Diocese of Sydney since 2016.
A van stocked with pantry items travels from place to place, delivering affordable food to those on low incomes.
Mobile Community Pantry program manager Matt Madigan said the program’s expansion included their first move into the Illawarra.
They will be operating at three sites in the region.
The program launched in the region at Figtree Anglican Church on Thursday.
“It’s really important that for this program to work, you need to have a local community like a church group that is really keen to host it,” Mr Madigan said.
“So for us, it’s a really important thing that there’s a group of volunteers from a church that want to do it.
“The beauty of this program is that people don’t wait in queues.
“They actually are served hospitality – afternoon tea or a meal – on the church grounds while they wait their turn.”
Mr Madigan said if you have a Pension, Health Care or Immigration Card, you will be able to take home up to two bags of groceries at $10 per bag.
“Two bags is $20, and you’ll take away roughly $120 worth of groceries if you pack it well,” he said.
“The shoppers come along and get great value, which helps them with other bills.
“If you find yourself in need in a crisis situation and you don’t have any of those cards, you can come and talk to somebody from the local church… The aim is to include people rather than exclude.
“So if there’s somebody in need and that need’s just happened, then we can accommodate them.”
Figtree Anglican Church executive minister Ron Irving said the program was an extension of the work they were already doing via their Manna House Ministry.
“At the moment they come each week and get a meal, and now every fortnight they can stock up their pantry through this van as well,” he said.
“But we also anticipate it will provide us connections with other people in the community that we’re not yet connected with.”
The van will visit Figtree Anglican Church every second Thursday from 5pm to 6pm.
From November 13, the program will visit Corrimal Anglican Church every second Monday from 10.30am to 11.30am.
From November 14, the van will be at the Second Chance Op Shop at Berkeley every second Tuesday from 1.30pm to 2.30pm.
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