These chicken wings are freezing!” Andrew, a volunteer at our Addi Road Food Pantry Camperdown store, has his hands bowl-deep in a pile of at least a hundred wings. He’s wearing gloves but it makes little difference. It’s tough job, people laugh, but somebody’s gotta do it.

Still thawing, the chicken wings are being turned over in a sauce prepared by other volunteers in the spanking bright kitchen. The room is humming with energy: around ten people on a production line of vegetable dicing, marinating flavours (oyster and fish sauce with tamarind puree) (plus some brown sugar), and flat-out cooking over a burning stove.

Phil, their ‘head chef and ‘spiritual mentor’, does his best to maintain order – and make his pad Thai cooking process understandable. It helps he has a recipe book open for everyone to double-check. In the opposite corner, an apple tart is being set into trays before being baked. Another volunteer, Matthew, moves around cracking bad jokes. “I’m not the head chef, but I’m the chief stirrer. I do my work without a spoon.”

Outside the kitchen door, a 470 is pulling up on Pyrmont Bridge Road. Customers to our food pantry  – just a few doors down from our kitchen – are arriving by bus from Glebe, as well as on foot locally, to start shopping when it opens from midday.  



Phil from Addi Road conducting our Let's Get Cooking lesson inside Common Ground. Jenin from Mission Australia observing.

Phil from Addi Road conducting our Let’s Get Cooking lesson inside Common Ground. Jenin from Mission Australia taking photos.


Addi Road Food Pantry Camperdown operates as a low-cost grocery store, making use of rescued food that we save from going into landfill, what purchased stock we can afford from distributors, and the support of our donors. We give away free fruit-and-vegetables and free bread with every shop that goes over $5.00. Compared to the big supermarkets, most people walk away with four-to-six times the value on a simple spend.

Sitting between Addi Road Food Pantry Camperdown and our buzzing kitchen is Common Ground Sydney, a Mission Australia housing project offering wraparound services to its residents. Not far away is Johanna O’Dea Court, a multi-storey NSW Family and Community Services apartment block. Across the road, some of the most expensive apartments in the inner city. Quite the contrast.

At Addi Road Food Pantry this varied clientele mingles. Locals-in-need shop beside those who like to support the pantry’s environmentally-friendly approach to rescued food. There’s a deeper sense of people searching for what community can mean, customers chatting to one another and our volunteers, finding ways to become familiar and feel less alone. Food as a foundation for connection.

Inside the Common Ground building it’s just as busy.  Our monthly ‘Addi Road  ‘Let’s Get Cooking’ session (AKA “the Cook-Up”) offers 260 free hot meals for residents as well as those shopping at our Food Pantry. We also run a monthly cooking demo inside the CG courtyard with Phil and Bronwyn, who set up all the ingredients on a table for today’s Pad Thai and Apple Tart.  Food literacy is the goal, helping people to shop and cook with limited funds. Each month there are extra tips for their kitchen cupboards, essentials to facilitate simple, inexpensive and nutritious recipes that match whatever Addi Road Food Pantry has in stock.

It’s an integrated food ecology for people battling. With that extra special ingredient: camaraderie. People cheer and laugh at the cooking advice and how they might manage a recipe. For many our Addi Road Cook Up is an impetus to leave their rooms and gather. Those struggling with mental health issues, or simply feeling shy, can take their free hamper boxes – packed and stacked beside the food demonstration table – back to their private rooms, along with the cooked meals that have come from our kitchen.

Outside on the street, tables are set. Phil’s pad Thai is being brought out and served. Then Bronwyn’s apple tart dessert. Residents from Common Ground and Johanna O’Dea Court are joined by more people jumping off the 470. A volunteer asks how it tastes. A young man raises both hands over his head and opens his fingers up like he has won something: “Ten out of ten.”


Matthew, the Addi Road ‘Cook’Up’ chief stirrer at Camperdown


Add Road Food Pantry Camperdown, 31 Pyrmont Bridge Road, Camperdown. Open Monday to Friday, 12–4pm. With a Saturday opening starting from June 1st. Our next monthly ‘Cook Up’ is on Friday May 31st.

Thanks to the City of Sydney for support.

You can donate to Addi Road’s  food justice programs through our website….