BCS’ ninth Food 4 Life outlet was officially launched in early May in the Central West town of Dubbo, with support from the local community, BCS staff, volunteers and Councillor Ben Shields, on behalf of Dubbo City Council.
With over 620 households now accessing the food service, which has been operating since January, Clr Ben Shields was both shocked and grateful that BCS’ Food 4 Life outlet was in full swing.
During the launch, Group Manager for BCS Food 4 Life, Mr Mark Hallett read excerpts from the Dubbo and Wellington outlet comment books, where clients praised the outlet for its practical assistance and care.
It’s great, why waste the food if it’s still good to eat.
It’s a real good idea. The people are really good to the customers.
This little shop is a God-send for those that are having troubles making ends meet.
The best shop in town.
Wouldn’t manage the weekly shopping without this wonderful service.
Robyn Hayes, Manager of the Central West outlets said that word of mouth has led to the majority of clients accessing Food 4 Life.
“In Dubbo we’re averaging between 10 and 20 additional memberships a day,” she said.
“The bills that are coming in [for clients] are huge. They try and pay their bills before the power’s cut off and everything like that. Food is down at the bottom,” said Mrs Hayes.
The Dubbo outlet is BCS’ second outlet in the Central West. Both Dubbo and Wellington outlets work in partnership with BCS’ growing microfinance loans services, offering the community low or no interest loans for vital household goods including furniture, white goods and car repairs.
The synergy between the two services allows BCS to provide a holistic service to the community.
“The clients can literally access affordable food, cross the hallway, and apply for an interest free loan for a new fridge or a washing machine,” said Mr Hallett.
Wellington’s outlet has been operating since December 2010 and already has 750 households registered; a significant number given the town has a population of only 5,200.
Since 2007, over 14,000 households have registered with one of BCS’ nine outlets.
Basic food items are sourced from Food Bank, which initially come out of supermarkets where it is reaching a period of time where they would no longer sell it.
“The food goes to the Food Bank warehouse and we collect it for a service fee. Our clients make a donation for the food they access, and they are happy to do so because they don’t see it as charity, they see it as having a choice to select what they want,” said Mr Hallett.
Other food, personal and grocery items are sourced from alternative suppliers. Local farmers, as well as the Wellington Men’s Shed also donate fresh vegetables from their community garden.
Dubbo and Wellington outlets are both staffed with volunteers and job seekers from OEC, who are learning the retail trade from Mrs Hayes.