SBS World News Radio: Social enterprise provides affordable groceries to low income earners
Food insecurity is a major, yet hidden, problem in Australia with more than two million people seeking food relief every year.
One discount food store is helping provide relief and restore dignity to some of the most needy by offering affordable food to families.
For 58-year-old Faith Swann, putting food on the table for her eight grandchildren can be a struggle.
She is currently unemployed and relies on government support to look after her family.
Costs do add up and it's a problem her family, including granddaughter 15-year-old Gwen appreciates.
"For us there are a lot of bills to pay in our house. We're a big family and we love to eat. Food is our life. So when we need food, we just have a little amount of food and we just divide from there."
She says going back to school is going to be particularly tough.
"For now we don't have anything to buy our school books and stuff. We still use our old school books. But our school helps out so our school is like a financial help for us."
With the rising cost of living, it can be difficult to make ends meet.
According to the latest figures by the nation's largest food relief organisation, Foodbank, one in six Australians have called on food relief at least once over the past year.
More concerning, 28 per cent of those are experiencing this on a regular basis.
Terry Wilson is the Manager of Employment and Enterprises at Settlement Services International.
He says food insecurity is a growing problem in Australia but there is not enough awareness of the problem.
"It's a significant issue that I don't think has been tackled very well. there are people who are struggling to make ends meet and it just seems ironic that in a country like Australia where we are so blessed with so much land and so much fertile country that we're not able to get the food to people in need."
The Staples Bag, a not-for-profit store in Campsie in Sydney's west, is helping provide some relief.
Mr Wilson helped establish the Staples Bag initiative and now oversees the store's partnerships with food suppliers.
"So we've got people from all walks of life. We support about 300 families every week. We're constantly looking to source a wide range of goods because of the multicultural needs of our community. Everything we stock is halal."
The Staples Bag relies on wholesalers to donate food items at heavily discounted prices for its customers.
A bag of fresh fruit, vegetables and meat, that feeds a family of four for over a week would cost around $100 at a local supermarket.
But at the Staples Bag it's only $30.
"The first time they come they can't believe how many groceries they can get. And you know, we hear some stories about what a significant impact it's going to make on their lives and how they are going to be able to afford new school shoes."
It's been over a year since the Staples Bag first opened its doors.
It's planning to expand to western New South Wales where food insecurity is most prevalent, and later across the country.