Bega's Sapphire Community Pantry celebrates customers with Christmas joy and a free lunch

Simon Sledge and Cheryle Russell of Bemboka pick up a week's worth of groceries for just over $10 at the Sapphire Community Pantry.
Simon Sledge and Cheryle Russell of Bemboka pick up a week's worth of groceries for just over $10 at the Sapphire Community Pantry.

After the success of their first few months, the team at Sapphire Community Pantry are hoping to come back bigger and better next year. 

The pantry held its last day of trading for the year on Thursday, inviting the community to stock up on supplies ahead of Christmas and enjoy a complementary barbecue lunch to thank them for their patronage.

The shelves were stocked with Christmas treats, including puddings, chocolates and cherries. Candy canes were also handed to shoppers and children outside the pantry. 

To demonstrate how easily a family of four could feed themselves over the Christmas break, Sapphire Community Pantry founder Christine Welsh filled up two shopping baskets with enough food to last a week. 

A variety of foods, including rice, pasta, tacos, tuna, ham, cereals, bread, sauces, tea, milk, snacks, a range of deserts, fresh fruit and vegetables and even a 900g container of protein powder totalled only $44. 

THE MORE THE MERRIER: Christine Welsh believes everyone deserves a feast this Christmas. These baskets hold groceries to feed a family from Christmas to New Years that only cost $44 from the Sapphire Community Pantry.

THE MORE THE MERRIER: Christine Welsh believes everyone deserves a feast this Christmas. These baskets hold groceries to feed a family from Christmas to New Years that only cost $44 from the Sapphire Community Pantry.

Alongside food, the pantry stocks toiletries and other personal items at discounted prices. 

“We’re trying to give people the broadest and healthiest choices possible,” Ms Welsh said. 

Supplies are sourced from food recovery service Food Bank and contributions from the community. 

Bemboka residents Simon Sledge and Cheryle Russell visited the Sapphire Community pantry for the first time on Thursday after stopping in for lunch at the barbecue. 

They filled a cardboard crate with groceries for only $10.40. Ms Russell predicted the supplies would last them at least a week. 

Plan for next year is to find a bigger location to include a space for shoppers to relax and have a chat over a cup of tea. 

“The pantry has gained a lot of traction in a short amount of time, we have over 330 members now, plus a few more that signed up this morning,” Ms Welsh said. 

“The place is usually full each Thursday, about 70 people pass through each week.”

Ms Welsh encouraged people to become members of the pantry to generate a sense of community ownership over the project. 

The Sapphire Community Pantry will reopen in 2018 on January 11. 

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This story Pantry stocks shelves with Christmas joy first appeared on Bega District News.