Liberty Foodcare's new plans after year of operation

CARING: Volunteers Alex Wilkes, Ally Riggs and James Ardill at Liberty Foodcare, which has been open for a year. Photo: Gareth Gardner 140618GGA002
CARING: Volunteers Alex Wilkes, Ally Riggs and James Ardill at Liberty Foodcare, which has been open for a year. Photo: Gareth Gardner 140618GGA002

LIBERTY Foodcare has marked its first year of operation, with plans for more tasty moves on the menu.

With 1300 people on the books, the non-profit corner store will continue into the foreseeable future, according to founder James Ardill.

He said the Robert St shop now sold almost 400kg of potatoes and 200 loaves of bread and rolls per week to people under financial stress – just one sign of the need.

“There is a huge demand out there and we’re really only scratching the surface,” Mr Ardill said.

“Basically unless everybody gets a $50 a week pay rise in the pension, the need for us will continue [for] as long as I can source reasonably cheap food.”

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In fact, the shop has become such a hit that it’s edging out its neighbour.

The baby and children’s goods shop Tamworth Mums, also Liberty Church-founded, will be on the move to a location that’s still being worked out. The vacated area will be used as Foodcare storage space.

“That the price of success,” Mr Ardill said, laughing.

“Both sides are actually doing far better than we first envisaged, so one of us had to move.”

Another plan in the offing is the establishment of a cafe area in the Foodcare space.

Nutrition and cooking classes are also possibilities.

Hungry for help

Liberty Foodcare officially opened on May 25, 2017, selling and sometimes giving away groceries provided mostly by Foodbank Australia, OzHarvest and Coles South Tamworth.

Mr Ardill said he estimated that 40 to 50 per cent of people on the books shopped there at least monthly.

This year there has been an average of 73 shoppers per day, and Mr Ardill said the most prevalent demographics were “young families and the older single or married pensioner”.

“Of those 1300 families, we’ve got 1800 children at home connected to those families,” Mr Ardill said.

“We’ve got a very strong family focus, but we’ve also got the very strong age-pensioner category.”

The store has just started opening two mornings a week instead of just one; from 9.30am to 12.30pm, Thursdays and Fridays.