A 100-strong queue snaked along the corridor to the first The Staples Bag pop-up at SydWest Multicultural Services on Thursday, February 14. There was much anticipation and excitement at the prospect of getting weekly groceries for less than half price, and the crowd was not disappointed.
Shoppers at the first The Staples Bag pop-up store at SydWest Multicultural Services.
Tables were covered with boxes of breakfast cereal, soap, pasta, bread, biscuits, boxes of fresh fruit and vegetables, and much more for people to choose from.
Manager of SSI Employment Terry Wilson was amazed at the number of people who showed up for the launch of The Staples Bag pop-up and said that it confirmed the need in the community for such a service.
"SSI established The Staples Bag social enterprise over a year ago to address the growing issue of food insecurity in the community, and the growth in popularity and demand for the service has been incredible," Mr Wilson said.
The Staples Bag has multiple benefits for the community. Grocery and household items are sold at often 70% less than the retail value through a store in Campsie and several regular pop-up stalls in social housing estates and retirement villages. This is great news for people struggling to afford food, which according to Foodbank’s 2016 Hunger Report is one in six Australians, with over 644,000 people receiving food relief each month.
The other benefit is that The Staples Bag store, pop-ups and warehouse are staffed by job seekers who are getting invaluable hands-on work experience.
"By working with us, job seekers get experience in things such as marketing, retail, warehousing and customer service. These are tangible skills that boost any resume," Mr Wilson said.
"We are always looking for opportunities to access more people in the community and are really pleased to be partnering with SydWest Multicultural Services, who have hosted today’s pop-up."
SydWest Multicultural Services CEO, Elfa Moraitakis was thrilled at the response to the initiative.
"Organisations like SydWest have a responsibility to enhance the quality of life of their local communities," Ms Moraitakis said.
"This is why it is important to connect the community with initiatives like The Staples Bag, and SydWest will now host The Staples Bag pop-up once a fortnight."
Ms Moraitakis said that the employment component of The Staples Bag also aligned with their Job Club and that The Staples Bag was one of their most important partners.
Earlier in the day, Mr Wilson presented employment information to a group of about 50 job seekers from the local community, keen to learn how to find a job or local work experience opportunities.