The Brunswick Street Pantry is stocked with tinned food, toiletries and other dry goods. (ABC Radio Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
Give what you can … take what you need.
It’s a simple sign on a small cupboard that has taken the street library concept and turned it into a pantry to help those less fortunate.
Located alongside a busy street in the Brisbane suburb of New Farm, the silver-shelved pantry holds goods such as noodles, canned soup, toothbrushes and feminine hygiene products.
Jacquie Schougaard, pantry organiser and Brunswick Hotel venue manager, said the idea came from her mother.
The goods in the pantry are there for anyone who needs them. (ABC Radio Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
“My mum saw a similar project happening in Ireland and mentioned it to me,” she told ABC Radio Brisbane’s Craig Zonca and Loretta Ryan.
“We already had a street library out the front, so I thought we could make a pantry next to it and see what happens.”
Many people seeking shelter move around New Farm to find a warm place to sleep. (ABC News: Giulio Saggin)
The project only started on Monday, yet the group has refilled the pantry twice.
“We have been blown away by the support of it and had so many donations come in for it,” Ms Schougaard said.
“The community in New Farm is amazing and there’s so many people who are excited to give, but there’s also so many people that need it.”
Giving without judgment
Ms Schougaard said although the suburb was considered affluent, there were people she saw who needed help.
“When I drive into work I see many rough sleepers … I don’t think people know what struggle looks like sometimes.
“It’s not necessarily someone who’s under the bridge, it’s also someone living in community housing that can’t afford a simple luxury.”
The pantry sits outside the Brunswick Hotel on a busy street in New Farm. (ABC Radio Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
The pantry is situated on busy Brunswick Street, adjacent to the hotel, making it visible to those who need it.
“All our staff have been told if someone is taking something from there, the assumption is that they need it,” Ms Schougaard.
“The big thing behind us is giving without judgment.
“If something happens to the actual pantry, if it’s vandalised or pulled down, then we’ll put it back up again.”
Keeping the pantry full
Although it’s a new project, many residents have donated goods to keep the pantry well stocked.
“We had no idea how much this would mean to so many people,” Ms Schougaard said.
“We’ve stocked the pantry with tins of soup, toothpaste, spaghetti and coffee, along with toiletry products.
“My mum donated small biscuits this week and I can tell you they went quick.”
The hotel’s head chef also adds fresh fruit and vegetables when there are any to spare.
Ms Schougaard said she hoped the concept might resonate with others.
“I’m hoping that by carrying on this idea, others will start their own in other parts of Australia.”
To hear more stories of the people that make Brisbane great, keep listening to ABC Radio Brisbane for Burbs The Word.
The pantry sits next to a street library that has books for people to exchange. (ABC Radio Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)