Author: VicHealth, a Victorian Government Agency that works with experts, evidence and research in health promotion Last updated: 15 May, 2020

Supporting Victorians to access fresh food more cheaply

If you’ve been feeling the pinch at the checkout you’re not alone.

Recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows a spike in the cost of food in the first three months of 2020. Fruit and vegetables, meat and seafood, and cereal products, like rice and pasta, all increased in price due to bushfires, drought and the coronavirus pandemic.

Research also tells us that unhealthy foods like chips and soft drinks are twice as likely to be discounted at the supermarket than healthy foods like fruit and vegetables, making it hard for families on a tight budget to eat healthy.

The good news is there are various organisations trying to help make healthy food more affordable, one of them being The Community Grocer.


The Community Grocer provides healthy food at a good price

Table with fresh vegetables

The Community Grocer runs five fruit and vegetable markets in public housing estates and community centres across Melbourne. Prices are typically 60 per cent cheaper than supermarkets


"The Community Grocer prices are typically 60 per cent cheaper than supermarkets.


With more Melburnians struggling to afford and source healthy food at the moment, the organisation is experiencing greater demand. 

That’s why VicHealth is teaming up with The Community Grocer to give people facing disadvantage greater access to high-quality, affordable fruit and vegetables both during and after the coronavirus pandemic.   

The partnership will allow The Community Grocer to service the increasing number of people shopping at their markets while scoping out new sites for the future.

If you don’t live near a Community Grocer market, try our tips to get the nutrition you need to stay healthy and well on a budget.


 Tips for getting the healthy food you need on a budget


1. Start with healthy recipes that don’t blow the bank

LiveLighter recipes from their website

There are many healthy recipes out there, but not all of them have a strict budget in mind. No Money No Time has recipes you can filter based on ingredients and your preferences, dietary requirements and kitchen appliances. The free Back to Basics recipe book on Cancer Council Victoria’s LiveLighter website also has healthy meals you can make on a budget.


2. If you can, buy from markets

local market selling fresh fruit and vegetables 

With panic buying forcing grocery prices up, it can often be cheaper to source fruit and veggies outside supermarkets. Check out The Community Grocer to see if there’s a market near you, or search for ‘fruit and vegetable market near me’ online.


3.  Don’t get sucked into ‘superfood’ fads

Anything called a superfood will often come with a matching price tag. And whilst there is no evidence that specific foods protect people from getting sick, including contracting coronavirus (COVID-19), research shows that generally improving your nutrition helps your immune system to function well and fight infections. Read more about what to eat while you stay home with VicHealth CEO Dr Sandro Demaio’s healthy eating tips


4.  Get support when you need to

If you are unable to put food on the table, contact your local council or visit the Ask Izzy websiteto find out where you can access food relief services in your local area. 


It’s important to note that large organisations such as FoodBank, SecondBite and Oz Harvest don’t distribute food directly to people. Instead, these organisations distribute food to local community food relief agencies, so contact your council to find out the best way to get help.  


The government also has free food and personal care packages available to vulnerable Victorians during the coronavirus pandemic. More information here.  



Have a coronavirus question?

For all coronavirus questions visit or call the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) hotline on 1800 020 080.


Header image source: Mark Stewart, The Herald Sun