Newcastle’s community pantry under threat

Food Not Bombs Newcastle. Photo: Steve O'Brien

Newcastle Council's plans to close a community food pantry have provoked community outrage.

More than 5000 people have signed an online petition calling on it to allow the pantry to stay where it is.

Supporters have also planned a community picnic on June 30 at the site of the pantry — which is set to be removed that day.

The pantry provides food, clothing, blankets, sanitary products and other essentials to anyone in need and is replenished by community members, often responding to social media posts.

Located in Awaba Park near the Hamilton Railway Station, the pantry is close to the Food Not Bombs collective, that serves meals to the hungry on Monday and Wednesday evenings.

City of Newcastle officers, backed up by several police, pasted notices on the pantry’s locker on June 6, announcing that the pantry was unlicensed and would be removed.

When I visited the meal service recently, a young man stopped by for vegetable curry and commented that his budget often got tight by mid-week.

Poverty, along with homelessness is increasing in Newcastle. The state government has reduced the public housing stock by 150 properties in Newcastle over the past 10 years.

Despite this, the state budget allocated no funds for the construction of new public housing in Newcastle.