Wangara: The Pantry calls for more donations as need for free food increases


Co-ordinator Kevin Combes and Pastor Dan Alderdan from The Pantry. Picture: Martin Kennealey.
Co-ordinator Kevin Combes and Pastor Dan Alderdan from The Pantry. Picture: Martin Kennealey.

A NORTHERN suburbs food pantry run by volunteers is appealing for more donations as it sees the number of people needing food increase.

Kevin Combes said The Pantry, which operates out of Wangara’s Dreamlife Church, supplied free food to thousands of people a month.

Mr Combes said he started the organisation about five years ago, and it had grown beyond his expectations since then.

“We had a couple of little tables, a fridge and deep freezer,” he said.

“On the first week, no one came; second week, two people came.

“Now we are feeding up to 200 people a day.

“I’ve noticed over the five years the need has grown; people are struggling more.”

Mr Combes said the people who came for free food had a variety of backgrounds, including single parents, pensioners, refugees, people who were homeless and others who were struggling to buy groceries.

After providing their health care card and indicating how many people were in their family, those people could leave with a box or more of packaged food and fresh produce.

“Hopefully it’s enough to last them a week,” he said.

“We don’t judge at all; we want to restore people’s dignity.

“I’ve been there myself, having to walk into a place and ask for food – it’s really hard to do.

“I’ve been out there, cold and lonely and struggling; I know what it’s like.

“There are so many beautiful people out there that are just doing it hard.”

The Pantry has about 50 volunteers, and Mr Combes said many were people who had received food donations from it and later returned to give back.

Some farms and supermarkets donate excess or out of date stock, but he said they needed more supplies to meet the growing demand.

“We source food from wherever we can,” he said.

“By us taking the food that they would throw out, we are saving them money on rubbish disposal.

“We are always looking to source more food.”

Mr Combes said there had been times when all they had was potatoes and carrots to give people and one time when they had to close the doors because they ran out of food.

He said if the supply of donated food increased, they would be able to extend the opening hours and help more people.

Another truck to collect food donations and a forklift were also on his wishlist.

The Pantry also supplies food boxes to other non-profit organisations, which distribute them to families in need, and does school breakfasts.

The food pantry at the Lumsden Way church is open on Thursdays and Fridays from 10am to 12.30pm.

For more information, call 9309 9109.

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