The Tumut Community Pantry have increased the times the pantry is open to weekly, after the community enthusiastically responded to the service after their opening late last year.
The pantry provides discounted essentials for those in need, including bags of vital items like bread, milk, cereal, soap, and fruit and vegetables, for $5.
They have also started selling meat vouchers once a month for the Franklin Butchery, available at half the price – so a $20 voucher, for example, will sell for $10.
It is an initiative of the Interchurch Council, with all Christian denominations in Tumut participating save the Catholic church, who provide a similar service through their association with St Vincent de Paul.
Customers say their efforts have already made a big difference.
“It does help a lot,” said customer Shirlyanne Ormsteon.
“The ladies are lovely, they’re always nice to us. We need stuff like this to help people out. It’s a small town and a lot of the time you have to go quite far to get some help.
“People think low of you for coming here, but we’re trying to do the best we can and it’s a big help. We’re really grateful.”
The pantry is open every Friday at the Anglican Memorial Hall, opposite the church on River Street.
Leanne King of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church and Tumut Community Pantry Committee said she could see firsthand the help the Pantry has been providing.
“Most people are very genuine,” she said.
“They’ll come in on weeks when they have rego due or things like that. One lady this morning, we suggested she take a jar of coffee, and she said, oh, no, I’ve still got a bit of coffee at home, I don’t want to take something that someone else might need.
“People will come in and have a chat and that’s when you realise they’re really struggling.”
The pantry relies on donations from the community, which largely comes in the form of individuals donating to the churches who then pass it on to the interchurch pantry.
They also have a donation trolley in Coles and benefit from the New 2 U op shop.
Tumut Public School and Franklin Primary School also helped out with a special Christmas drive, to help them provide Christmas hampers to those in need.
Reverend of the Anglican Church Liz Sloane said that she was touched by the fact people had been donating fresh fruit and vegetables, which are available at no cost, in spite of the difficult summer weather.
“It’s been so hot and dry, and people are still bringing in fruit and vegetables they’ve grown when they can,” she said.
“The community have been very generous,” Ms King said.