In the wake of startling food insecurity in Queensland households, the Corliss family’s very Grand Hotel is going beyond the counter meals to provide groceries and staples to locals in need.

The Foodbank Hunger Report 2023 found 3.7 million households in Australia have run out of food in the last year due to limited finances, and one in five Queensland households are experiencing food insecurity in some way, which may mean going hungry or skipping meals.

Regional Queensland has been hit the hardest. Of homes in the state facing food insecurity, 46 per cent experience it multiple times per month.

Childers is a town of around 1,600 people, around 350 kilometres north of Brisbane.

In the centre of town is the heritage-listed Grand Hotel, built 1892, which has been operated by multiple generations of the Corliss family; in recent years Dennis and Pam have passed the reins to daughter Helen.

Seeing that the rising cost of living was hurting people in Childers, the pub installed an exterior pantry, where people struggling to find enough can help themselves to a few meals.

The hard fact is that there are families going without, parents missing meals so they can feed their kids, and the organisers guess there are probably some people going without a meal for themselves to feed their pets, so the pantry, which is accessible 24/7, even includes some pet food.

The policy is to take what you need, or leave what you can, but Helen says you don’t have to leave something to take something.

Contents of the pantry come courtesy of the proceeds of the pub’s Friday night raffles.

The Grand is another community business joining the efforts to help those struggling in the current climate. Initiatives in other towns have typically started with tinned goods, and expanded to include other general household items, such as hygiene and cleaning products.

Jess Watkinson, CEO of Foodbank Queensland, says Australians “must do better to ensure nutritious, culturally appropriate food reaches the dinner tables” of everyone.

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