Word has spread quickly since the Garden of Eden's Community Pantry opened its doors to the public only a couple of weeks ago.
When I told key co-organiser Pam Skelton I hoped to arrive in time to witness a bit of a shopping frenzy, she said, "Don't worry about that, last week there was such an ongoing stream of people, we found it difficult to close on time - so we just kept it open for just a little longer."
Upon arrival, I hear the friendly chatter of shoppers inside. A woman carrying a box full of veggies brushes past me. She turns and smiles to others inside "I'm off to make some pasties."
Pantry key organiser Peter Skelton, wearing a blue apron with all the air and grace of an old fashioned green grocer, welcomes me into the shop.
READ MORE: Community Pantry gets ready to nourish
The pantry shelves are packed to the brim with all kinds of basic food and products from pasta, veggies, cans of fruit and even hair dye.
Most of the items have been purchased through Foodbank, other products have been donated by local supermarkets, as well as fruit and veggies from people's gardens. The products are sold to pantry customers using a point system.
"The point system is kind of like a donation, for example one point is the equivalent to 20 cents and they move up in 20 cent increments. So two points is actually 40 cents, every item is marked with a point, it's pretty easy to get used to," Mr Skelton explains.
It seems customers have already gotten used to it. They pick up certain items liked canned pears marked with a "3" and hold them up like long lost treasure. I get the feeling a few crumbles with custard will be served up around Eden tonight.
At the checkout, volunteer Lisa Henry is serving Eden local Antony Amadei. Mr Amadei said he happened upon the pantry by chance and came in just to check it out, however he ended up with a box of essentials.
Mr Amadei said his family shopping budget per week is usually between $250-$300.
"This will make a huge difference to our budget," he said.
Adjoining the pantry in the church hall people are sitting around tables having cuppas and cake. There is a lively ambience. Ms Skelton explains Pantry Thursdays have a dual purpose.
"On one hand we hope to encourage community connection, we hope people will stay and have a chat, some morning tea and connect with others.
"On the other hand we hope people will purchase basic grocery items that fit in with their budget.
"Its all about community," she says. "We hope people will make it part of their routine, where they pop in, have a shop and some chatter, and then go up the street for their regular shop."
The Garden of Eden Community Pantry is located at the Uniting Church hall, Chandos street and opens Thursdays 10am-1pm
Journalist at Eden Magnet
Journalist at Eden Magnet
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