New pantry friendship scheme to avert food shortages for thousands

8 April 2020

Thousands of people could be protected from food shortages during the coronavirus crisis, after the launch of a friendship project was fast-tracked

The Friends of Your Local Pantry scheme will raise cash from individuals and businesses, to ensure food provision for neighbours at risk of severe poverty.

The Your Local Pantry network has 14 member run food clubs around the UK, providing members with regular access to supermarket food at greatly reduced prices. The pantries pre-empt hunger and loosening the grip of poverty, freeing up more income for other costs and essential bills.

In March, the number of visits to the pantries passed 1,000 in a month for the first time, but the coronavirus crisis has threatened supply chains and organisers anticipate increased need over the coming months.

Today, the project is launching its Friends of Your Local Pantry scheme so that through one-off or monthly donations, supporters can prevent pantries from running low on staple foods, ensuring members can stay afloat in tough times.

The Your Local Pantry Team at Lighthouse in Middleton, in March 2019

Pantries offer fresh and chilled food, as well as frozen, long-life and tinned goods. Members can routinely choose what they put in their basket, typically being able to access around £20 of food for just £3 or £4 a week. Nationally, pantries have 1,400 members and provide for 3,600 adults and children, with pantries in Greater Manchester, London, the West Midlands, Cardiff, Preston, Stoke-on-Trent and Liverpool.

Church Action on Poverty runs the national network, following the success of a local scheme developed by Stockport Homes in 2014. Pantries source food from Fareshare and local suppliers, and members pay a weekly subscription, which allows them to access a set number of heavily-discounted items each week.

Gillian Oliver, pantry project worker at Church Action on Poverty, said: “The coronavirus crisis has caused sudden hardship and natural fear for people across the country. We know it will mean many more parents losing work, children potentially going hungry, and people worrying about food security. For that reason, we have brought forward the launch of our friendship scheme, so our supporters and the wider public can act now to prevent hunger.”

The Your Local Pantry team in Preston, in 2019

Pantries are a proven solution across the country, preventing thousands of people from being swept deeper into poverty. People have already been phoning us asking how they can donate, and the friends scheme allows us to respond to that compassion in the best way. Signing up could not be easier – all the details are at www.yourlocalpantry.co.uk/friend

Some pantries have already adapted since the coronavirus lockdown began. The pantry in Peckham has had to move to another room to enable safe distancing, but has also reduced its fee and the food it can provide, due to supply interruptions. The pantry in Smethwick had to relocate when the library where it was based closed.

Individuals and businesses are being asked to sign up to the friends scheme. They will be able to select a single pantry to receive 75% of their donation, with the rest used equally across the whole network, or they can donate to the central fund.

All donors will be acknowledged in Your Local Pantry communications or events, and the largest business supporters will be supported to include the work in their corporate social responsibility portfolio. Businesses pledging £50 a month of more can attend and contribute to the Your Local Pantry AGM and can request a talk to their business from the leader of their local project.

Notes to editors

More ‘bold and courageous’ action needed to protect millions from biggest income shock in living memory

More ‘bold and courageous’ action needed to protect millions from biggest income shock in living memory

More ‘bold and courageous’ action needed to protect millions from biggest income shock in living memory

What is the churches’ role in responding to Coronavirus? (part 1)

New pantry friendship scheme to avert food shortages for thousands

Reflections on living in lockdown: shopping

Gathering on the Margins

How people are responding to the Coronavirus outbreak

How do you run a food bank in a pandemic? Here are 6 steps we’ve taken

Talking global solidarity in Byker

You can help out today...

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea.

New pantry friendship scheme to avert food shortages for thousands

Gathering on the Margins

How people are responding to the Coronavirus outbreak

News release: Hundreds of community church leaders join call on UK Churches to speak truth to power

Almost 500 ministers and other leaders of local churches across all the main Christian denominations have signed an open letter to the UK’s Churches, calling on them to ensure that "the deepening crisis of UK poverty is at the centre of national attention."  It calls on the Churches to "redouble our efforts not just to alleviate the symptoms of poverty, but to call out the root causes, systems and structures which ensnare so many in poverty today.” 

 

The open letter states that: “Above all, as Churches we are compelled to speak truth to power,  with and alongside those whose voices are consistently ignored by those in power in corporate, media and public life. Poverty and gross inequality are not acts of God but structural defects that can be corrected. Speaking truth to power is a task for the whole Church, and one given greater urgency now, amid political debates that continue to expose the divisions within society.” 

The letter has been coordinated by Church Action on Poverty and signed by local church leaders across the UK. Niall Cooper, director of the charity, said today: “The church must hear the cry of the poor and act. It must step alongside those who have been swept into poverty and work with them to challenge the systems that pull people down. Many churches are doing wonderful work in their own neighbourhoods, but we need such action everywhere, and national leaders must prioritise that. We thank everyone who has signed this letter, and hope it begins a sea-change in the priorities of the church as a whole.” 

This Sunday (23 February) is Church Action on Poverty Sunday, and many of the signatories will read the letter aloud in their services. Part of the letter says: “At local level, we commit to becoming genuinely part of a ‘church at the margins’ where those on the margins of society feel welcomed, where their God-given dignity is recognised, and where their talents, hopes and visions for the future are celebrated and affirmed. At national level, we call on our church institutions to commit to the task of becoming a true church at the margins and to properly resource this, as a genuine expression of the gospel priority for the poorest and most vulnerable.”

Revd Andy Delmege, an Anglican vicar and director of the National Estate Churches Network, is one of the signatories. He said: “I have signed this letter because it is more vital than ever that our churches prioritise communities that are being ignored, pushed aside and left behind. We must ensure that every  community can flourish, bringing God’s love and hope to those in need.”  

Revd Adam Maynard, vicar of St George’s Everton, said: “I signed this letter because the causes, impacts and reality of poverty in the UK are not interrogated consistently in our society or in our churches.  As those who worship and seek to follow the one who emptied himself for sake of the world – we owe it to our Saviour to move beyond two-dimensional ideas about poverty and to seek to challenge and engage with the reality of it in thought, word and action.”

Martin Green, a trustee of Church Action on Poverty who himself has experienced food poverty, said: “I believe that churches as well as Government could do more to address poverty. They need to stand up and say they are supporting those who are trying to end poverty, and not hide. Churches are often good at helping people when they are on the street, but they need to challenge the poverty that has put people on the street in the first place. With more church support, other people would also listen more to people in poverty.”

Church Action on Poverty invites more local church leaders to add their names. 

More ‘bold and courageous’ action needed to protect millions from biggest income shock in living memory

What is the churches’ role in responding to Coronavirus? (part 1)

New pantry friendship scheme to avert food shortages for thousands

Reflections on living in lockdown: shopping

Gathering on the Margins

How people are responding to the Coronavirus outbreak

How do you run a food bank in a pandemic? Here are 6 steps we’ve taken

Talking global solidarity in Byker

Reporting poverty well: another step forward

Food banks can’t meet this demand. We urgently need a new plan

More ‘bold and courageous’ action needed to protect millions from biggest income shock in living memory

What is the churches’ role in responding to Coronavirus? (part 1)

New pantry friendship scheme to avert food shortages for thousands

News release: Smethwick gets its first Your Local Pantry, to help tackle food poverty

People in Smethwick will be able to save on their weekly shopping bills, thanks to a new project that officially opens today, 21 January.

Smethwick CAN has set up the Smethwick pantry, to be run and used by local people, at Smethwick Library.

The project is the latest in the growing Your Local Pantry network nationally, and the third in the Midlands.

Pantries are membership-based food clubs that enable people to access food at a small fraction of its usual supermarket price, improving household food security and freeing up more money for other essential household costs such as rent and utilities. The weekly fee at Smethwick is £4.00, for which members will be able to choose ten items, with a total value in excess of £20.

Membership opened in October and has already exceeded the initial target. Organisers hoped to have 100 members within six months but hit that in a week and are now nearing 150.

Christina Murray, the Food Hub Manager for Smethwick CAN, said: 

“Smethwick Pantry has been a great success, providing good quality food to local people struggling to make ends meet.

“This is the first Pantry in the country to be based in a library. This has been a great benefit to both the library and the pantry. Footfall into the library has increased and the location for the pantry is ideal as it is directly on the main high street with easy access to public transport.  We have formed an excellent working relationship with the library staff who have all been very supportive of the pantry.”

One of Smethwick Pantry’s customers, who visits every week, has said it is a real lifeline for her and her family. She enjoys visiting the pantry as the volunteers are friendly and make her feel welcome.  It’s nicer than visiting a food bank because she can choose the food herself and pay towards the cost rather than be given a hand out.

Pantries are sustainable, long-term, community-led solutions that can loosen the grip of food poverty in a particular neighbourhood. They can be part of a progressive journey to help people move beyond foodbank use, or can help reduce a family’s need for a foodbank.

They provide members with more choice over the food they get than is possible at food banks, and are controlled by the members, strengthening the community’s ability to prevent food poverty or to progress out of food crisis.

Pantries source their food from a variety of sources, such as supermarket surplus via food recycling charity Fareshare, and by developing relationships with local food businesses who offer surplus food, which helps to reduce food waste and puts savings in the hands of people who are struggling to cover their weekly outgoings, potentially creating a virtuous circle.

Stockport Homes and the charity Church Action on Poverty are supporting the roll-out of pantries across the UK, under the banner of Your Local Pantry, after initial projects in Stockport were shown to have brought social, financial and health benefits including reducing isolation, averting food poverty and improving local people’s mental health. An impact report last year found pantry members had saved £650 a year on average on their shopping bills, and that every £1 invested in pantries generated £6 in social value.

Niall Cooper, director of Church Action on Poverty, said: “We know the Pantry model brings many benefits to communities up and down the country, helping to loosen the grip of poverty. They nurture community, alleviate isolation and reduce people’s food bills, to ease the pressure. It’s fantastic to see the first library-based pantry opening, showing the diversity and flexibility of the project.”

Anybody interested in setting up a Your Local Pantry in their community is invited to email gillian@church-poverty.org.uk

More ‘bold and courageous’ action needed to protect millions from biggest income shock in living memory

What is the churches’ role in responding to Coronavirus? (part 1)

New pantry friendship scheme to avert food shortages for thousands

Reflections on living in lockdown: shopping

Gathering on the Margins

How people are responding to the Coronavirus outbreak

How do you run a food bank in a pandemic? Here are 6 steps we’ve taken

Talking global solidarity in Byker

Reporting poverty well: another step forward

More ‘bold and courageous’ action needed to protect millions from biggest income shock in living memory

What is the churches’ role in responding to Coronavirus? (part 1)

New pantry friendship scheme to avert food shortages for thousands

Press release: Wales gets its first Your Local Pantry, to help tackle food poverty in Cardiff

People in Cardiff will be able to save on their weekly shopping bills, thanks to a new project that opens this week.

ACE (Action in Caerau & Ely) has set up the Dusty Forge Pantry, to be run and used by local people, at its base in west Cardiff. It will be officially launched at ACE’s open day on Wednesday 3 July 3.

The project is the latest in the growing Your Local Pantry network, and the network’s first in Wales.

Pantries are membership-based food clubs that enable people to access food at a small fraction of its usual supermarket price, improving household food security and freeing up more money for other essential household costs such as rent and utilities. The weekly fee at Dusty Forge is £5 for which members will be able to choose ten items, with a total value of around £20.

So far, 50 members have signed up, and the charity plans for that to increase to 150 by the end of this year.

Sam Froud-Powell, community support coordinator at ACE, said: “We are really excited to be launching the Your Local Pantry at the Dusty Forge community centre. The pantry provides members with good quality food, including fresh produce, for an affordable membership fee. This helps local families struggling with food costs to eat more healthily and expand the range of food in their weekly shop.”

Pantries are sustainable, long-term, community-led solutions that can loosen the grip of food poverty in a particular neighbourhood. They can be part of a progressive journey to help people move beyond food bank use, or can help reduce a family’s need for a food bank.

They provide members with more choice over the food they get than is possible at food banks, and are controlled by the members, strengthening the community’s ability to prevent food poverty or to progress out of food crisis.

Pantries source their food from a variety of sources, such as supermarket surplus via food recycling charity Fareshare, and by developing relationships with local food businesses who offer surplus food, which helps to reduce food waste and puts savings in the hands of people who are struggling to cover their weekly outgoings, potentially creating a virtuous circle.

Stockport Homes and the charity Church Action on Poverty are supporting the roll-out of pantries across the UK, under the banner of Your Local Pantry, after initial projects in Stockport were shown to have brought social, financial and health benefits including reducing isolation, averting food poverty and improving local people’s mental health. An impact report last year found pantry members had saved £650 a year on average on their shopping bills, and that every £1 invested in pantries generated £6 in social value.

Niall Cooper, director of Church Action on Poverty, said: “Pantries are a great way for local people to come together, strengthen their community and loosen the grip of high prices. Rising living costs and stagnating incomes have made life increasingly difficult for many people, but pantries provide immediate, visible support that can protect people from being swept into poverty.”

Anybody interested in setting up a Your Local Pantry in their community is invited to email gillian@church-poverty.org.uk

ENDS

More ‘bold and courageous’ action needed to protect millions from biggest income shock in living memory

What is the churches’ role in responding to Coronavirus? (part 1)

New pantry friendship scheme to avert food shortages for thousands

Reflections on living in lockdown: shopping

Gathering on the Margins

How people are responding to the Coronavirus outbreak

How do you run a food bank in a pandemic? Here are 6 steps we’ve taken

Talking global solidarity in Byker

Reporting poverty well: another step forward

More ‘bold and courageous’ action needed to protect millions from biggest income shock in living memory

What is the churches’ role in responding to Coronavirus? (part 1)

New pantry friendship scheme to avert food shortages for thousands

Press release: Community Pantry opens in Preston to help tackle food poverty

People in Preston will be able to save on their weekly shopping bills, thanks to a new project that opens this week.

The Intact Centre in Whitby Avenue, Ingol, has converted its food project into a community pantry, to be run and used by local people. It will be called Whitby’s Pantry and will be officially launched at an event on Wednesday 19 June.

The project is the latest in the growing Your Local Pantry network.

Pantries are membership-based food clubs that enable people to access food at a small fraction of its usual supermarket price. The Intact Centre’s weekly fee is £3.50 for which members will be able to access approximately £25.00 worth of food, improving household food security and freeing up more money for other essential household costs such as rent and utilities.

So far, 25 members have signed up, and the charity’s chief executive, Denise Hartley MBE, expects that to rise over the coming months.

She said: “Intact has been operating a ‘Community Supermarket’, a local food club, where Fare Share food is bagged up by staff and volunteers. This club has proven to be very popular and over the last two years around 200 members have accessed the food project 1,821 times. We have about 25 regulars that attend each week and we are hoping to be able to increase this to around 40 to 50”

Pantries are sustainable, long-term, community-led solutions that can loosen the grip of food poverty in a particular neighbourhood. They can be part of a progressive journey to help people move beyond foodbank use, or can help reduce a family’s need for a foodbank.

Intact’s ‘Community Supermarket’ has provided a valuable service for the past two years, but the pantry approach gives members more choice over the food they get, and more control, strengthening the community’s ability to prevent food poverty or to progress out of food crisis.

Pantries source their food from a variety of sources, such as supermarket surplus via food recycling charity Fareshare, and by developing relationships with local food businesses who offer surplus food, which helps to reduce food waste and puts savings in the hands of people who are struggling to cover their weekly outgoings. This is potentially a virtuous circle.

Stockport Homes and the charity Church Action on Poverty are supporting the roll-out of pantries across the UK, under the banner of Your Local Pantry, after initial projects in Stockport were shown to have brought social, financial and health benefits including reducing isolation, averting food poverty and improving local people’s mental health. An impact report last year found pantry members had saved £650 a year on average on their shopping bills, and that every £1 invested in pantries generated £6 in social value.

Niall Cooper, director of Church Action on Poverty, said: “Pantries are a great way for local people to come together, strengthen their community and loosen the grip of high prices. Rising living costs and stagnating incomes have made life increasingly difficult for many people, but pantries provide immediate, visible support that can protect people from being swept into poverty.”

Anybody interested in setting up a Your Local Pantry in their community is invited to email gillian@church-poverty.org.uk

More ‘bold and courageous’ action needed to protect millions from biggest income shock in living memory

What is the churches’ role in responding to Coronavirus? (part 1)

New pantry friendship scheme to avert food shortages for thousands

Reflections on living in lockdown: shopping

Gathering on the Margins

How people are responding to the Coronavirus outbreak

How do you run a food bank in a pandemic? Here are 6 steps we’ve taken

Talking global solidarity in Byker

More ‘bold and courageous’ action needed to protect millions from biggest income shock in living memory

What is the churches’ role in responding to Coronavirus? (part 1)

New pantry friendship scheme to avert food shortages for thousands