Foodbank switches to choose-your-own

Queenstown corps officer and director of community ministries Lt Andrew Wilson in Queenstown’s...
Queenstown corps officer and director of community ministries Lt Andrew Wilson in Queenstown’s Sallies Supermarket .PHOTO: CASS MARRETT
Queenstown's Salvation Army has changed the way it runs its foodbank, making it more personalised to the community’s needs.

Instead of receiving a food parcel put together by someone else, people who needed to access food services were now able to go into the Salvation Army’s Gorge Rd premises and select what they needed from a supermarket-style room.

"I think it helps reduce the stigma of the food parcel," Queenstown corps officer and director of community ministries Lieutenant Andrew Wilson said.

"No-one really wants to get a food box full of things that they don’t actually want or need, so it’s a great way for us to ensure the donated food that we get is going to the right people and it’s not either getting left to collect dust in someone’s pantry or thrown straight in the bin," he said.

Shelves were stocked with essentials and arranged in groups for breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner foods.

"We’ve had few people through now [and] we’re not really surprised but certainly encouraged by how people who are in need can choose for themselves and choose wisely for themselves," Mr Wilson said.

"It’s a great sign of how we can help people get back on to their feet a lot more quickly," he said.

If someone needed food support they would contact the Salvation Army in the first instance, have their needs assessed by a support worker, and depending on the size of their family, they were allocated a particular number of boxes or bags to fill with goods from the "supermarket".

Mr Wilson said at present the "supermarket" could service more than 100 people with the capacity to grow if there was enough demand from the community.

He said he had noticed a spike in demand for the food service about a month ago when a wave of Omicron swept through the community but said that demand had since dropped off.

"We have seen an increase in other services — our finance mentoring and our social support service," Mr Wilson said.

"Those who access our foodbank quite often then engage with us with those other services ... that often leads on to wider conversations about how we can support them more broadly," he said.

The Sallies’ supermarket is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.

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