Finding affordable, healthy and culturally appropriate foods is an increasing problem in some suburbs around the country. But a new initiative is helping to put food on tables in Melbourne's north and combat growing food security issues.
Aileen Phillips

9 Jan 2016 - 1:26 PM  UPDATED 16 Jan 2016 - 4:49 PM

Marium Farhan is a regular at the Fawkner Community Market.

"I come to this market because it is really near our home and the prices are reasonable and the volunteers are really nice," she said.

The market's an offshoot of the Community Grocer in Carlton, which provides public housing residents access to affordable and healthy food.

All the produce comes from a local supplier, who buys it from a wholesaler. Any profit made from the market gets put back into it.

Fawkner's been chosen to trial a concept that could roll out around the state.

The market was established to target low income families and newly arrived refugees in an attempt to combat food security issues.

Peaches for sale at the market.

Sarah Cotsopoulos from Merri Community Health Services said there were a number of issues that made getting fresh, healthy, affordable and culturally appropriate foods challenging.

"We've got about six fresh-fruit-and-veg outlets compared to 13 takeaway outlets in the area and we do find that transport is a really big issue for the community in Fawkner," she said.

She said statistics surrounding food security in the area were startling.

"In 2011, we saw that about 5 per cent of people said they were food insecure, where as it jumped to about 11 per cent in 2013."

"I come to this market because it is really near our home and the prices are reasonable and the volunteers are really nice."

Market customers pay $2.50 per kilogram for apples, compared to about double that at the big supermarkets.

Most of the produce at the market retails between 10 to 30 per cent less than at the supermarkets.

Those who are after more traditional ingredients are catered for too.

"We've got quite a few people from Pakistan who love their ocra so we always make sure there's ocra for people to purchase," Ms Costopoulos said.

“We've also got a big Italian community in Fawkner so we've always got the tomatoes and zucchinis.

Each week, volunteers and shoppers are treated to a free vegetarian barbeque, using market produce.

Most left-over fresh produce is donated to local relief agencies.