Two rather grand-looking women are sitting patiently on chairs outside the Addi Road Food Pantry in Marrickville. One has a floral shopping trolley; the other, a few carry bags at her feet overflowing with food. It’s impossible not to want to take a photo of them. But they wave away the opportunity. Then they summon the photographer back to explain why they’d rather not have their picture taken. “We do not want our children to see us.”
 
At first it’s assumed the women are embarrassed to be in need. But that is not their story. Every week they come here with a friend and do a large shop. “If our children see us, they will say ‘What are you doing mother? You are not hungry.’ They might want to stop us. But we want to keep coming back.”
 
It’s explained that whatever their reasons for coming here, they are helping Addi Road and the environment by making good use of the rescued and donated food that would otherwise go into landfill. As customers, any shopping they do allows us to save even more food – and thereby help other people in need.
 
The two women nod; one very direct in her gaze, the other with her head turned down beneath a large broad-brimmed hat. The afternoon sun stretches away from them and makes their shadows cool and long on the second day of winter.
 
The woman who does most of the speaking says, “I wish I had known about here when I was a young mother bringing up my children. It would have been very helpful. But now I know.”
 
She and her friend aren’t here for themselves or their families. Their children are all grown up. They shop for goods they can send back to Samoa to friends and extended family there. Poor and dependent on foreign aid, the country has been rocked by natural disasters. Food insecurity and malnutrition are serious problems.
 
Two women in Sydney work against the tide of how things are in Samoa. “Today we bought a 20 kilogram bag of rice. That is very good for us. We will send it back our families. We want to keep doing this. We want to keep coming here every week. Thank you for asking for our photo; we just wanted you to know our story.”
 
#addiroad #foodsecurity #socialjustice #samoa #foodrescue #foodpantry #marrickville
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