After a long journey, the Sapphire Community Pantry has officially opened its doors to the public.
On Thursday, the low cost grocery store marked its first day of trading with a performance from The Wobblies and a free sausage sizzle from Mission Australia.
The official ribbon cutting took place with the help of Bega Valley Shire Mayor, Kristy McBain and Member for Eden Monaro, Mike Kelly.
Christine Welsh has spent the last few years developing the community pantry. In front of a large crowd, she thanked everyone who had made her vision a reality.
Food and supplies on the shelves of the pantry are sourced from food recovery organisations Food Bank and OzHarvest, and the shop’s shelving was generously constructed and donated by the Bega Men’s Shed.
The pantry is located at the front of the Salvation Army’s Family Store on Gipps St in Bega, which has been offered rent free.
Ms Welsh also took the time to thank all of the individual donations made along the way, which have been recognised on a board behind the pantry counter.
Cr Kristy McBain was glad to be a part of the opening.
“This is the embodiment of what we should be doing in the Bega Valley, I think this will really benefit the vulnerable members of our community,” she said.
“Plus it is right in the CBD making it very accessible, so I think this location will be its biggest drawcard.”
The Sapphire Community Pantry works on a point price system. One point is equivalent to 20 cents, and every item in store is marked with how many points it costs, so a box of tissues costs 3 points, or 60 cents and a can of soup costs 5 points, or one dollar.
By selecting a few items off the pantry shelves, Ms Welsh demonstrated that a family of four could be fed for just seven dollars.
With each purchase, there will be a selection of free fruit vegetables and bread that customers can take for free, depending on stock.
Ms Welsh said the community shouldn’t be shy about shopping at the pantry because the more people spend, the more stock she is able to order in for others and keep the pantry open.