'It's what our community wants more than anything else'
THE Murwillumbah Community Pantry, which fed more than 600 people a week before being wiped out in the March floods, is set to reopen after a generous grant from a group of Northern Rivers philanthropists.
Established by the Murwillumbah Community Centre nearly two years ago to service a growing need in the community, the pantry had more than 600 members on its books before the devastating flood washed through its Nullum House centre, wiping out its entire stock.
MCC community services co-ordinator Amanda Lindh said a $25,000 grant from the Northern Rivers Community Foundation - the major recipient of this year's grants - would go towards reopening the pantry in the new year.
Plans are before Tweed Shire Council to refit the old Red Cross building in Knox Park with the aim of reopening the pantry in about March 2018.
Ms Lindh said the pantry had delivered "amazing outcomes” for Murwillumbah by helping those most in need, including many elderly residents, young mothers and others struggling to cope with the high cost of living.
"The pantry really filled that need in the community. Our vision for the pantry is to create food security for everybody and food awareness and preparedness, and that was never more evident than when the flood hit the area. It was such a devastating time for everybody.
"The re-establishment of the pantry is what our community is asking for more than anything else.”
Every year the NRCF hands over thousands of dollars in grants to community organisations across the Northern Rivers.
NRCF chairman John Callanan said the organisation acted as a bridge between the most disadvantaged and those offering help.
"We live in paradise... but it's not paradise for everyone,” Mr Callanan said.
"In fact the statistics are quite alarming: in the Northern Rivers we are well above the state average in most areas of disadvantage, be it financial hardship, unemployment, youth suicide, grand-carers of grandchildren, disabled, indigenous disadvantage, intergenerational substance abuse, the list goes on.
"The NRCF motto is we help those who help others. We are the bridge between those who are most vulnerable in our community and those who have a commitment to giving back and helping others.”
Investing donations by individuals and corporations in the stock market, all profits are ploughed back into the community each year, with $1.1 million distributed since 2004.
The pantry was one of 17 community groups to share in $125,000 this year, including several Tweed groups. Other Tweed recipients include Story Dogs, Tweed Palliative Care, Pottsville Men's Shed, Riding for the Disabled and Shaping Outcomes.
Visit http://www.nrcf.org.au to get involved.