The Y NSW, Coles and SecondBite have joined forces at Lakeside Leisure Centre to help ensure ACT residents experiencing food insecurity don’t go hungry. They have launched a new community pantry, supporting locals who have been impacted by the pandemic or who are facing financial barriers to purchasing food.
The community pantry is located on site at the Leisure Centre in Greenway and is restocked three times a week from the Coles and SecondBite Community Food Program.
SecondBite is one of Australia’s largest food rescue organisations partnering with farmers, manufacturers and retailers to save surplus and unsold food and redistribute it free of charge to community food programs and feed people in need. Through the Coles and SecondBite Community Food Program, SecondBite connects charities and not-for-profits to collect donated food from Coles stores.
In June, the Lakeside Leisure Centre was connected to Coles Tuggeranong to collect unsold food such as bread, fruit, vegetables, and tinned food for its free community pantry service.
The new community pantry comes as SecondBite’s new research reveals three out of four community food charities are experiencing higher demand from vulnerable Australians compared to this time last year, particularly from single parent families and people affected by homelessness and unemployment.
The research also shows almost 80 per cent of charity and community partners surveyed saw an increase in demand for their food relief programs compared to last year.
Lakeside Leisure Centre staff saw this increased demand play out locally in Greenway.
“Since reopening doors after lockdown in September last year, we noticed an alarming increase in people living out of their cars and paying for showers on site,” Centre Manager Kristen James said.
“We have a very strong community and consistent patron base at Lakeside, and our staff and regular members wanted to do something to help out.”
The Centre first established a ‘Street Library’ two years ago for patrons to exchange books. Over the last year the concept was expanded to include food and other essential supplies.
“The food was going really quickly so we installed a veggie patch out the back to start growing fresh produce,” Ms James added.
The new partnership with Coles and SecondBite has reduced the reliance on community donations and increased the volume of food available for the community.
SecondBite’s CEO Steve Clifford said “We are very proud to connect The Y Lakeside Leisure Centre to collect unsold food donated by Coles Tuggeranong. It’s a win-win situation in ending waste and ending hunger.”
“Over the last 10 years Coles has donated the equivalent of more than 148 million meals to those doing it tough in our communities. It’s incredible to see our community partners transform this food into community pantries, food relief hampers and nutritious meals for locals in need.”No membership is required to access the pantry, which is restocked on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
“At the Y we believe in building healthier, happier and better-connected communities and as a not-for-profit we’re always looking for ways to give back in a meaningful way,” Ms James said.
“We warmly invite anyone to visit us at the Corner of Anketell Street and Athllon Drive in Greenway to see what’s available. All Y staff are committed to protecting the privacy and dignity of anyone who may benefit from the pantry.”