Sapphire Community Pantry secures shopfront

Nearly there: Rod Parsons of Bega's Salvation Army meets at the new shop site with Community Pantry committee members Peter Buggy and Christine Welsh and Family Store manager John Horsburgh. Photo: Alana Beitz

Nearly there: Rod Parsons of Bega's Salvation Army meets at the new shop site with Community Pantry committee members Peter Buggy and Christine Welsh and Family Store manager John Horsburgh. Photo: Alana Beitz

The Sapphire Community Pantry is another step closer to opening its doors to the public after securing a shop site.

The Salvation Army of Bega has generously provided a rent free space for the discounted food supply store, located next to their Family Store on Gipps Street, Bega. 

The Community Pantry is a project of passion for Christine Welsh, who is thrilled to overcome one of the biggest hurdles she has come up against in the process.

“We’ve been wanting to do this for years, but the challenge has always been finding a suitable space to operate from,” she said. 

Fruit, vegetables, bread and other basic items will be available for free or at a reduced price through the shopfront.

Stock is supplied through food rescue organisations Food Bank and OzHarvest.

Ms Welsh also hopes to provide other items like nappies and sanitary products through the pantry for those who need them.

She said Sapphire Community Pantry was a non-judgmental service that was open to everyone. 

“We want people to be comfortable about seeking our help,” she said. 

“You don’t have to prove you’re poor to shop here, sometimes a big electricity bill is enough throw people out for a fortnight or longer.”

Rod Parsons of the Bega Salvation Army said the “co-location” of the Family Store and Sapphire Community Pantry was a great way to turn the area into a communal hub for people.

“It’s more than just offering a shopping service, it’s about creating a community of hope,” he said. 

“We’re hoping that people won’t just come here to buy things, they’ll try to become involved and volunteer in these initiatives too.”

The Sapphire Community Pantry has also secured an auspice arrangement with the Southern Women’s Group, to operate under their charity credentials. 

This progress has allowed Ms Welsh to focus on the next stages of the store’s development. 

“Now we’re on the lookout for the right people to volunteer for the project,” she said.

The Sapphire Community Pantry is due to open on Thursday, September 28.

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