HandUp Food

HandUp is our way of helping people with food and everyday essentials when things get a little tough.

Financial hardship can strike anyone – an unexpected crisis, the loss of a job, health problems, or any number of other reasons – making it difficult to provide for yourself and your family. Sometimes it can be hard to accept help. Sometimes it’s hard to know who to even ask. If that’s you, we hope you’ll come in and let us lighten the load a little.

We’re a non-profit service, supported by volunteers and the kind donations of various companies and individuals (see below). Because of this, we can offer bread, fruit and vegetables (depending on availability) and a range of other groceries at substantially reduced prices.

The service is here for you, when you need it. You may come in and shop as often as necessary – on a regular day-to-day basis, or just in those times when you’re experiencing financial hardship.

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We stock

  • bread, fruit and vegetables
  • frozen and packaged food
  • treats for school lunch boxes
  • other groceries and toiletries.
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Become a member

Membership costs just $4 per year.

Simply come in during normal opening hours and fill in an application form in person.

How we started


HandUp Food Care was established by Jody Sisley and Sandra MacDonald in the old Charnwood High School building as a small food pantry on 21 May 2007. It was opened to help meet the need of local families who were seeking assistance with food during times of financial hardship, and to complement the work already being done through the op shop and Charity Computers. HandUp was one of the first food pantries in the ACT to access low cost and free food from FoodBank NSW. We were also successful in receiving a Federal Government grant to provide Emergency Relief, and this continued for 9 years, until early 2015.

New building

In 2010 HandUp moved into a new refurbished section of the same building, along with the other services offered by Canberra City Care. We now receive between 3–5 pallets of food from FoodBank each week, and collect donations of fruit, vegetables and bread from 7 supermarkets around the ACT on a daily basis. We also work to rescue and distribute food that would otherwise go to waste, in partnership with:

  • Foodbank
  • OzHarvest ACT
  • SecondBite (Coles).

Leading the way

HandUp has been instrumental in helping other food pantries establish, both in the ACT and in NSW. We have also been an integral part of developing the FoodBank voucher system that now operates between 5 Emergency Relief providers and approximately 10 food pantries around Canberra and Queanbeyan.

Christmas hampers

HandUp distributes about 400 Christmas hampers each year. We offer support to some of our own customers who are experiencing a difficult holiday season, as well as providing some hampers to other organisations. A number of schools, government departments, businesses and other organisations are now involved in collecting donations towards this project.