Access to food is a basic human right. Yet many Australian women do not receive this entitlement. This study investigated challenges vulnerable women face when accessing food in the Australian Capital Territory. A cross‐sectional mixed method study comprising one‐on‐one interviews, the Australian Heath Survey (AHS) food insecurity question, and 24‐hour recall was conducted. Single women (n=41) average (SD) age 42.4 (± 11.3) years, living in accommodation and on the poverty‐line were recruited through purposive and snowball sampling. Ninety‐five percent (n = 39) received social security payments; with 42% (n = 17) receiving $200–$300 /week, 54% (n = 15) lived in social or government housing and 56% (n = 23) had responsibility for children. Thirty (73%) had run out of food and could not afford more in the last 12 months. Qualitative findings suggested 68% (n = 28) of women had consumed a balanced meal either the day of, or day before the interview, whereas 6 (15%) women had not consumed a balanced meal 3–10 weeks prior to the interview. Food pantries were reported as a primary food source, although access was limited due to pantry opening times, low income, poor quality food, and limited healthy fresh food options. Further, little knowledge of available services was identified as challenges to accessing nutritious food. Women were likely to source food from > 2 pantries per fortnight and reported supermarkets, specials and reduced‐price food products to supplement food pantry supplies. A multi‐sectorial and multi‐layered socioeconomic approach is required to improve the availability, access and utilization of safe and nutritious food for women and their children.