ALPA Food Card

The idea of the ALPA FOODcard is to assist families to provide food throughout the whole pay cycle. It has been designed primarily as a family budgeting tool. Customers may choose to have money paid into the FOODcard on pay days and any other time then spend that money over the remainder of the pay cycle or period on a selected range of food and household essentials.

The FOODcard assists family providers’ to protect money they wish to put aside for food from pressures for other non-essential expenditure. The cash registers are programmed to block spending on non-essentials from the FOODcard. Items eligible for purchase from the card will have clearly identified shelf labels. Cash refunds for money paid into the card are not available.

In mid-September 2007 the ALPA store at Galiwin’ku commenced trialling the ALPA FOODcard. The trial proved successful with customers voluntarily choosing to use the card with its limitations to food and essentials. The FOODcard was subsequently rolled out to the other stores in the group.

Where did the idea come from?
The ALPA FOODcard idea evolved from community consultations at Gapuwiyak in 2004 regarding a Shared Responsibility Agreement to support ALPA’s Health & Nutrition Strategy. Participants explained that for the Health & Nutrition policy to work there needed to be a way to avoid the “humbug” that takes money away from families eating healthy regular meals. The underlying principle outlined by the ALPA Board of Directors is to resolve this issue and for each customer to make their own choice about how much money they wish to allocate to the card.

Who can have a FOODcard?
Any ALPA customer: people, families, homeland centres, council or school organisations. As well as a family budgeting tool the ALPA FOODcard:

•    Is a convenient and timesaving replacement to using purchase orders for morning tea and cleaning products while adhering to allocated budgets.
•    ALPA FOODcard simplifies administrative requirements for CDEP lunches, meals on wheels and dividend distributions for ceremonies.
•    Allows food to be included as part of Fringe Benefits.
•    Allows a collective and secure method of food purchases for homeland residents.

Getting started
There is no restriction on how many cards an individual or organisation can hold.The conditions for use of the ALPA FOODcard will be explained to each card holder in English or Yolŋu matha. The card holder will be given a copy of the Product Disclosure Statement and will be required to sign in acceptance of the Terms and Conditions related to the ALPA FOODcard. There are no identification requirements. Making a deposit Money can be paid onto a card by:• paying cash or EFTPOS at the store
• through Centrelink or Centrepay payments
• direct debits from bank accounts
• payroll deductions from participating organisations



Using the ALPA FOODcard
Once money has been transferred to the card there is no delay in making purchases. The balance on the card is displayed and the balance reduces as each item is rung up on the register. The card cannot be overdrawn. Items blocked by the register for purchase from the ALPA FOODcard can then be paid using cash or EFTPOS by the customer. Service fees will not be passed onto customers. ALPA will cover service fee costs.

The ALPA FOODcard has a signature panel on the reverse that customers may choose to sign. This can be left blank if the holder wishes for other family members to do their shopping. A password facility is available with the card as additional security but a signature is required from the person making both deposits and purchases. Photographic ID is embedded in the FOODcard Chip so that store staff can identify that the person with the card is authorised to use it. Up to 4 photos can be embedded in the card and the card will log electronically which person used the card for a particular transaction. Transaction histories are also available. Card holders are encouraged to store their card in a safe place.

Lost ALPA FOODcard
Lost cards can be replaced. A block is placed on lost cards which can then be reissued within 2 days. A copy of a recent deposit slip (with signature) is required when reporting a card lost. The residual balance on those cards inactive for more than 12 months defaults to a benevolent fund.

Who decides what can be purchased? Extensive community consultation has included most grocery food items and baby requirement in line with ALPA’s healthy choice policy. Excluded items include soft drinks, cigarettes, tobacco and toys. Categories will be refined during the trial period. Community input guides the allowed categories in the store for FOODcard purchases.

More information

The ALPA FOODcard project uses the Worldsmart Retech Grocery Manager System

Queries can be directed to:  and, ALPA’s Nutritionist on

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