Kate and Max have been coming to the Addi Road Food Pantry Marrickville “every week since it opened,” she says. Max looks up at his mum, a little sceptical about that claim. “I don’t remember coming when I was in kindy!”
Kate gives him a nudge. “No. That was on Wednesdays when I came here and you were in school.”
It’s been about a whole minute, but Max hopes the interview is over now. He’s nine and wants to go buy some Vans’ socks from the 335 Skate Supply up the road. “Let’s go.”
His mum Kate nudges him again. “We won’t be long.”
In answer to why she shops at Addi Road Food Pantry Marrickville, Kate says, “I’m a single mum and coming here saves me so much money. I come here now before I do any of my other shopping. Get everything I can and then I think about what else I might need at the more expensive shops.”
“We just bought three lots of meat here for $24. That’s going to feed us 15 meals,” she says precisely. “That is cheap! The Inner West of Sydney is ….” Kate stops herself for a moment then says, “It’s just how it is, but it is so expensive to live. If I had a choice I probably wouldn’t live here. But Max has his friends, and his father just lives down the road, so here we are.”
Being a single mum, Kate explains how coming to the Addi Road Food Pantry Marrickville “gives me the extra money to pay for Max. Just little things like the socks he’s talking about. Or even his new school shoes,” she says, pointing proudly to his feet. ”The $70 they cost me I saved over a few weeks from shopping here.”
Kate is part of a few single parents groups online at Facebook. It upsets her to hear other people’s stories and know they have nothing like the Addi Road Food Pantry where they live. She sees how the struggle and anger can affect people, and empathises with what is happening to them. “It’s the stress every day that causes you to react, because you can’t afford to live.”
Poverty can change who you feel you are, and affect your behaviour in all kinds of ways. Just having food in the fridge and on the table can make a big and very positive change to all that. Especially when you have kids. Kate is so glad to have found Addi Road. But she thinks about those people out in the country or in small towns that are isolated and battling, all those people with nowhere to go. “I so wish those people had this,” she says. “There should be places like the Addi Road Food Pantry all around Australia.”
Then she brightens and starts going through her shopping bags. “For a single parent family we eat well. There’s a bag of chocolates in here somewhere.” She can’t seem to find them. Kate turns to Max and says, “I must have thrown them out.” He says, “No you didn’t.” She just laughs.
“The Food Pantry is awesome. We have some rump steak. Some nice chicken thighs. I can make some beef stroganoff with what’s here. We have bread. Fruit and vegetables.
“But it’s not just the saving money thing. I’ve always hated food going to waste. I hate any kind of waste. I know this place gets a lot of stuff through food rescue. So I like to support that and be part of it. I feel good about that.
“I tell everyone I know about here. Not enough people know. They think it’s just for people who are unemployed. They don’t understand everybody is welcome. You don’t have to prove you’re poor or show you’re unemployed. You come in and you shop. No questions asked. It’s great it’s run that way.”
“It makes it nice coming here. Damien does an awesome job running the Pantry, I think. The volunteers are all great, really hard working and friendly. When you came up and started talking to me, I was only waiting around to say hello to someone volunteering that I’m friends with.
“There’s another Food Pantry opening at Camperdown I heard. We will check that out too, won’t we Maxxy?”
Max says “yes” a little impatiently.
Kate smiles and says “we better go get those socks at the skateboard shop before it closes.”
Max picks up a shopping bag for her. Kate grabs the heavier one. Both sharing the load. Mother and son walking together to where they need to go.
– Mark Mordue
Please consider donating to the Addison Road Community Organisation and our emergency food relief program. Donations can be made here: https://addiroad.org.au/donations/donate-now/