Pastor Marissa Cowburn, volunteer Michelle Dennison, worship leader Michael Travanion and Pastor Allan Cowburn at New Life Centre Mundubbera's Lifecare Food Pantry.
Pastor Marissa Cowburn, volunteer Michelle Dennison, worship leader Michael Travanion and Pastor Allan Cowburn at New Life Centre Mundubbera's Lifecare Food Pantry. Alex Treacy

Food Pantry able to expand thanks to grant money

WHEN the Mundubbera Food Pantry opened at the start of 2016, all its stock could fit in a single room.

Now, every room in the Lifecare building behind the New Life Centre on Stuart Russell St is taken up with pantry operations: five rooms full of groceries, a room for the tools used in Lifecare's Work for the Dole program, and an office.

The former home of pastors Marissa and Allan Cowburn and their two children, Alysa and Markuss, would have no chance of fitting the family in these days.

The pantry sells subsidised groceries and household items to those who are doing it tough in the community.

One of their biggest subsidies is on women's sanitary products, which they sell for $1.

More than 200 people are on Lifecare's books and they usually serve about 20 shoppers each Thursday.

"If I help someone save $20 on their groceries, that's $20 they could spend on petrol or electricity,” Pr Allan said.

"The more people shop here, the more we can give away.”

Charity offered by the service can take the form of emergency food hampers for people who are new to town and looking for work, or have just lost their job.

Or it could be the leftover bread they source from Woolworths Kingaroy and hand out for free alongside client's other purchases.

Pr Marissa said the pantry was like a "food op shop, but it's not second-hand food”.

The work of Lifecare, New Life Centre's community care arm, is set to keep expanding after the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal awarded it an $8833 grant to purchase additional fridges and freezers for food storage, and a trailer for transporting larger volumes of stock.

And it's not stopping there.

The Cowburns have a plan to build a new church and Lifecare building on the vacant block next to the current premises.

Facing onto the street would be a cafe with a commercial kitchen, which could be used by the service to expand the range of offerings it could provide the community.

Pr Allan said he hoped the new buildings would be completed within five years.

"This is our seventh year here (since moving from Brisbane) and we're not going anywhere,” he said.


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