Social enterprise supermarket delivers groceries to residents

Social enterprise supermarket delivers groceries to residents

In a remote town in Western Australia, a non-for-profit supermarket in the Pilbara town of Roebourne has changed the way residents access food.

The social enterprise model provides the community with access to cheap groceries.

Since opening last year, the Ieramugadu store sold 6 tons of donated produce.

Abby Phillis, the Foundation Food project lead, said people living in the state's north-west were often dealing with poor access to basic goods.

In West Australia, regional locals are a third more likely to experience food insecurity than those living in metropolitan areas, and basic groceries can cost as much as 120 per cent more, she said.

People who need carers to help shop or don't have licence are also taken into account when that's taken into account. The nearest stores are a long drive out of town. Ms Phillis said that high transport costs and a small population forced the closure of the Ieramugadu Store in 2019, leaving residents with a 10 kilometre drive to Wickham or a 30 km hike to larger supermarkets in Karratha.

The store was reopened in December 2021 and stocked with products from its partners to be available at no cost or low cost.

Previously, the predominantly Indigenous community about 40 kilometres east of Karratha had limited access to groceries due to cost, transport issues and inconsistent supply.

Since then, Foundation Food has supported the community with more than 600 care packages delivered to families in COVID- 19 isolation, part of Garlbagu, Ngarluma-Yindjibarndi Foundation's social enterprise arm.

Garlbagu chief executive Bruce Jorgenson said the store had been a remarkable success.

Jorgensen said that efforts to address food insecurity in Australia were largely made by the charitable food system and demand for services to provide emergency food relief was growing.

He said these services can make people feel embarrassed, ashamed, and offer no dignity of choice when it comes to selecting foods for their family.

Ms Phillis believes that not-for-profit supermarkets should be rolled out across the country to help alleviate food stress and supply issues.

The social supermarket model is not only sustainable but repeatable with the help of sponsors and donations. She said she was proud to support the project and it's been hugely successful.

We would welcome future initiatives like this throughout the region. Ms Phillis said the foundation was looking into growing its own fresh food at the back of the store.

We are building a cyclone-proof greenhouse out of the back to ensure a steady supply of fresh and local produce.