Growing numbers apply for food
EVERY week Eric Pearce sees three or four new faces at the door of the Casino Food Cupboard looking for help to put food on thefamily table.
As founder of the volunteer-run Food Cupboard, which distributes donated food to people in need, Mr Pearce knew a lot of people were struggling to make ends meet.
But he has been surprised by the large number of people who are regularly having to choose between paying the bills and buying food.
“We only opened in October last year and already we have 410 people registered for food assistance and that number grows each week,” he said.
“The Food Cupboard operates on Tuesday afternoons and Thursday mornings until 1pm.
“However, we are finding that we are running out of quite a few items most weeks by Thursday afternoon.
“It’s becoming more and more obvious that we will soon need more space and a greater volume of food to keep up with the demand.
“My biggest worry is that if we don’t do something, we will have to turn people in need away, which is completely foreign to what we are about.
“We are there to meet every need that comes to us in the community.
“But the way things are going, we could very well have to start turning people away by Christmas.”
Mr Pearce has applied to the State Government for a $154,000 grant through its Community Building Partnership program to build a shed next to the existing Food Cupboard premises on the grounds of the North Coast Community Church in Richmond Street, Casino.
The proposed new shed would be twice the size of the existing building and would be able to store a much larger quantity of food.
It would also have space for a Men’s Shed at the rear.
“We get most of our product, which is mostly dry goods, from Sydney.
“But because the demand even early on was greater than we expected, we have a volunteer who goes to Brisbane every two weeks and brings back another trailer load of product,” Mr Pearce said.
He said if the project was successful in winning a grant, the shed could be completed and operational within three months.
And even though he is seeking a grant for the full cost of the shed, Mr Pearce is hopeful it will be approved.
“The Food Cupboard is run by a team of about 30 volunteers,” he said.
“We have no real funds – we give the food away, although most people are happy to make a donation so we can cover expenses.
“So we are seeking the full cost of building the shed through the grant.
“But given the amount of work that went in to preparing the application and the support we have received, I’m hopeful it will be successful.
“If it’s not, I’m not sure what we will do – it would be a major setback.”