A non-profit supermarket model opened in an outback WA town which has had limited access to groceries for two years could be replicated in other small North West towns.
Residents of Roebourne - the North West's oldest town which is today home to a majority Indigenous population - have since 2019 had to drive 10km to Wickham or 30km to Karratha's larger supermarkets to buy groceries.
That came as a result of the closure of the Ieramugadu Store, which shut shop in 2019 due to high transport costs and a small population unable to afford the rising cost of goods.
But in February this year Garlbagu, Ngarluma-Yindjibarndi Foundation's social enterprise arm, reopened the store as non-profit Foundation Food, stocked with products at low or no cost from partners.
Garlbagu board member Kevin Guiness said the store had brought a new lease of life to Roebourne's town centre.
"Quite a few people in Roebourne, especially our elders, don't have a car or a
license so travelling to Karratha or Wickham to access basic food items was a major
barrier for many in our community," he said.
"We needed to address this issue for the health and wellbeing of our community.
"Foundation Food not only provides important access to basic food items, it also
provides these at low cost, challenging the notion that food stress and food insecurity
can only be addressed through food relief."
Woodside North West Shelf Project vice president Andrew Lobb said Woodside
was pleased to have helped fund the project.
"Foundation Food is a community led solution that has the potential to be expanded
to other regions where there is limited access to quality, affordable food," he said.
"This was a significant undertaking and we congratulate the NYFL and the Garlbagu
Board for bringing the project to fruition.
"We look forward to seeing Foundation Food continuing to provide this vital service
to Roebourne community for years to come."
Novo Resources, the City of Karratha, Sodexo, Horizon Power and The Brindle Group also contributed.
The store services Roebourne and outlying communities of Cheeditha, Ngurrawaana, Mingullatharndo and Weymul.
Foundation Food's hopes to establish other outlets in the North West using a similar model.