FRIDAY will see the launch of a weekly food bank at Wangi Wangi RSL Club.
The service offers bags of pantry staples, bread and fruit for $9, as well as free emergency food parcels.
There are also ‘Share the Dignity’ bags which include toiletries for women.
Care packages for men, provided by the Shoebox Revolution charity, include items such as caps, socks, and bottled water.
The Wangi Wangi initiative is an expansion of food bank services provided by Southlake Marketplace and its founder Christine Mastello, at Cooranbong, Gwandalan and Lake Munmorah.
“We’ll be offering our food bank at Wangi RSL Club on Fridays from 9.30am to 10.30am,” Ms Mastello said.
Volunteer Vicky Carr will supervise the Wangi RSL food bank.
She urged locals who might be struggling to put food on the table to make use of the service.
“You should never be too proud to ask for help,” Ms Carr said.
“Things are kept very private here.”
Ms Mastello said her “amazing team” of volunteers had enabled Southlake Marketplace to expand its life-changing services in the area.
“The first thing that I teach my volunteers is that as soon as someone [a customer] walks through that door, they are your friend, and there is no judgement,” she said.
“I tell the volunteers that they simply don’t know or understand the circumstances that have led to the person coming to see us.”
Some of Southlake Marketplace’s customers are homeless.
Some are single parents escaping domestic violence.
Some are elderly folk who live alone.
And some are young families who have fallen on hard times and simply need a helping hand to tide them over.
It matters not to Ms Mastello and her team.
Southlake Marketplace acquires its foodstuffs from a variety of sources, including the food rescue charity Oz Harvest.
But local donations are vital. Non-perishable pantry staples, frozen foods, and fresh fruit and vegetables – including home-grown produce – are all gratefully received by the organisation.
In Wangi Wangi, locals are invited to donate items by placing them in a designated storage tub at Wangi Hardware.
The club’s operations manager, Wayne Izzard, said supplying the venue was in keeping with the club’s push to become the community hub for the town.