David McMillan with a typical selection of fresh food and grocery items.
David McMillan with a typical selection of fresh food and grocery items. Janelle McLennan

Larder for battlers

FOR Wendy Brookes, the Casino Food Cupboard is the difference between barely scraping by and having a decent quality of life.

The Food Cupboard allows the Drake mother-of-three and her husband to stretch the family budget further than they thought possible and to stay on top of their bills.

"It has given us a better quality of life and living," Ms Brookes said last week.

"We have a generator for power, which is really expensive to run and, living at Drake, anywhere we go is a lengthy trip in the car.

"The Food Cupboard has meant we've been able to stretch our budget much further and it's made things a lot easier."

Through the Food Cupboard, Ms Brookes is able to buy a wide range of grocery items and toiletries for a fraction of what she would pay in a supermarket.

Not all grocery lines are avail- able through the Food Cupboard, but Ms Brookes is able to get many of the staples, including some fresh fruit and vegetables.

The Casino Food Cupboard is run by a group of 26 volunteers through the Lend a Hand Ministries and operates out of a shed at the front of the North Coast Community Church at 67 Richmond St, Casino (next to the Casino pool).

It opens on Tuesday afternoons and Thursday mornings and sources most of its grocery and toiletry items through the Foodbank in Sydney and Brisbane.

Co-ordinator David McMillan said anyone with a current Centrelink card could become a member of the Food Cupboard.

"We currently have about 400 members with about 100 people on average using the service every week," Mr McMillan said.

However, there is scope for more people to use the Food Cupboard and Mr McMillan is encouraging anyone with a Centrelink card who may be finding it difficult to balance their budget to try out the service.

"People are finding it harder to make ends meet - the Food Cupboard helps them to make their budget go further," he said.

While the Food Cupboard does not "sell" food, members are asked to make a donation for the goods they get, based on the total weight of their "purchase".

The donations help cover the cost of transporting the food from the Foodbank in Sydney and Brisbane - costs which look like increasing by $140 a week following the State Government's decision to reduce the transport subsidy - and provide food parcels to the really needy in the community.

The Casino Food Cupboard gave out about 200 food parcels to families and individuals in crisis last year.

Anyone who can help can phone Mr McMillan on 0451 025 872.

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