AN INNOVATIVE new program will put food on the tables of the region's poor.
Anglicare's new 'Low Cost Food Bank' opens in the Mackay CBD on May 30, providing a cheaper grocery store for those receiving a pension.
The Wood St outlet aims to assist low income earners in the region by allowing them to purchase food at low cost instead of relying solely on charitable handouts.
Anglicare committee member John Langford said the initiative was about providing limited income earners with a choice, and a chance to care for themselves, in turn restoring their dignity and re-connecting them with society.
"It's a basic human right to be able to fill your tummy with food, but some of these people will go to Coles, IGA and Woolworths and are really limited in what they can afford," he said.
"Others haven't got a penny to bless themselves with and rely entirely on our packs, and you can see the hurt and pain on some of their faces when they have to come and ask for a food parcel.
"Many are embarrassed.
"So while we will still provide that option where it's needed, the other option means people can come and shop, not needing to feel ashamed and feeling like they are truly looking after themselves."
The non-perishable products will be sourced from FoodBank in Brisbane while fresh foods will be provided by Coles.
The food will be sold at cost price to shoppers, often three to four times less than they appear on shelves in chain supermarkets and independent stores.
Shoppers will be required to show a pension or concession card at the check-out in order to keep the limited stock for those truly in need.
In addition to helping individuals, the program will also assist charitable organisations across the region by allowing them to purchase their food, hampers or vouchers at a low price.
Mr Langford said he had received a warm response to the new shop, even though it's official opening is over a week away.
"Some people have already seen the sign and said they'll be back on the 30th," he said.
"It's really needed in this area, there are a lot of people who are disconnected from the mainstream of happy Australians who are doing okay in life.
"There really are a lot of unseen poor, disadvantaged people walking our streets and the issue is only growing, so we hope this will help them out in some way."
Volunteer James Walker √said while FoodBank and Coles were providing much of the stock, further donations from local businesses were welcome.
"We are limited in what we get, so anything more that the community can help us out with it great," he said.
"We would love to encourage other businesses to get behind the idea, because the more groceries and options we have the better this thing comes together.
"We'd love for people to be able to come in here and do their full shopping not just have to pop down and grab a few individual items."
The official opening of the Anglicare Low Cost Food Bank, located at 14 Wood St, will be on May 30.
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