Bridging the gap with food
AT THE Lismore Regional Mission Food Pantry, a loaf of bread costs only 20c and a can of fruit costs 60c. According to Uniting Church Pastor Colin Scott, a family can shop there and leave with four bags of groceries for about $13.
Providing affordable groceries for the needy has been one of Pastor Scott's driving ambitions since he took up his ministry at the Lismore Uniting Church Regional Mission three years ago. Every Thursday, between 9.30am and 12.30pm the food pantry opens to the public and people who hold a current health care or pension card can join the local food bank for free to buy low-cost groceries, including fresh fruit and vegetables.
"Since the food pantry opened six weeks ago, membership has grown astronomically from six to 100," Pastor Scott said. "Last week we only had about 30 cans left on the shelf."
Pastor Scott is not your ordinary pastor. He rides a Harley, he's a technology whiz and now he's using his talent for business to give back to the community through establishing a local food bank.
"Our aim wasn't to reach homeless people," Pastor Scott said. "Families, students and pensioners have all been accessing the service. There are so many people living on a pension or low income who are struggling and have been forgotten about. I wanted to bridge the gap and create a way to reach these people in our community."
The food in the pantry comes from Food Bank NSW where it has been donated by big companies, then delivered each week to Food Bank members around the state.
"The Uniting Church is a member of the Food Bank and the only cost to us is the price of transporting the food to our region," Pastor Scott said. "The food pantry is a not-for-profit enterprise and run entirely by volunteers. Even the pantry storage area was built with funding help from Lismore Council."
While the food available at the food pantry is near the 'best before' date, Pastor Scott said it is still good for consumption.
"Every day, two million tonnes of food goes to waste and up to two million adults and one million children go hungry. The food products donated to Food Bank NSW would usually end up in landfill and this food pantry is an ideal way of helping those in our community in need...Our motto is 'An Australia without hunger'."
Like with many good supermarket deals, there are limits to the amount of food you can buy at the pantry.
"And there is a code of conduct," Pastor Scott said. "People need to be respectful, follow directions and be patient because there is a short wait for your groceries while we get them ready. We also ask people to bring their own bags and boxes and we are always looking for more volunteers to help."
On Thursday, May 31, there will be an open day where people can see how the local food pantry operates. There will also be a (belated) official opening by Mayor Jenny Dowell, the Hearing Voices Choir will perform, there will be a free sausages sizzle and kids can play in the playground or have fun on the jumping castle. Entry to the food pantry is near the grassy area outside the Uniting Church on Woodlark St.
For more information, you can contact Pastor Scott on 66215801 or email pastorcolinscott@ gmail.com.