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

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