7 ways a Your Local Pantry could help YOUR community in 2024
The Your Local Pantry network is growing rapidly.
There are now more than 100 Pantries, across all four nations of the UK from Portadown to Portsmouth, Edinburgh to Ebbw Vale.
Food is integral to all Pantries, but we have learnt over the years that Pantries are about so much more than that. They bring huge positive changes to people and neighbourhoods.
Here is a quick round up of seven ways Your Local Pantry shops make a meaningful difference.
1. Your Local Pantry strengthens communities
One member in Birmingham told us: “It’s community spirit all the way, it brings the community together and it makes people feel part of something.”
And a volunteer said: “I have made new friends, learned new skills and my confidence has increased. I have gained valuable work experience. I really enjoy being a volunteer.”
2. Your Local Pantry membership leads to friendship
Pantry membership leads to improved physical and mental wellbeing. Access to new friends, community, good food and new opportunities all contribute to this.
Barbara, a Pantry member in Chingford, told us: “I have made a lot of friends here. I am now a member of the wellbeing cafe and social club.”
Another member said: “I was very lonely and going to the Pantry helped me make friends who support my mental health as we talk outside the Pantry.”
Ellie, a volunteer, said: “Friendships are one of the biggest benefits that people get from the Pantry.”
3. Your Local Pantry improves health and wellbeing
Many Pantry members report feeling better after joining a Pantry – physically and/or mentally.
Pantries provide a wide range of foods, including fresh produce, making it easier for people to maintain the diet they want to, and the community and dignity of Pantries are cherished by members.
Don, a Pantry member in Leith, told us: “The free vegetables and fruit is great. I’m on a limited income so I was buying processed food as it’s cheaper, but it’s not as good for you.”
4. Your Local Pantry improves household finances
On average, Pantry members save £21 on groceries each time they visit. That means members who attend weekly can save more than £1,000 a year on shopping bills.
One member told us: “Being a carer limits my finances, this allows me to stretch further with
two grown-up children at home.”
Another said: “I now have peace about my finances, and especially about providing meals for my family. If I start to feel concerned again I just think – Wednesday is coming – don’t panic! I no longer feel shame about my financial situation, I feel proud of how it has changed – I have my dignity back.”
5. Your Local Pantry shops prevent food waste
The sheer vastness of national and global food supply chains mean there’s always a risk of some food going to waste.
Pantries are an efficient and ethical redistribution route for surpluses, via national charity Fareshare or through direct relationships between individual Pantries and businesses local to them.
One member told us: “I hate food waste. This along with affordability were my two main reasons for joining. What I got in return, that was unexpected, was community and friendships.”
6. Your Local Pantries nurture dignity and agency
Charities and community projects don’t always manage to maintain people’s dignity when it comes to food access. Pantries are different, as members testify.
Natalie in Liverpool told us: “Some people feel ashamed going to food banks, you feel like you are getting labelled. In the Pantry you are actually paying for stuff. It makes me feel, I have paid for me shop.”
Another member in Birmingham said: “I feel happy and don’t feel ashamed going in here, or feel like I’m being judged. Everyone is treated the same.”
A member in Leith said: “At the Pantry, you have choice, which is important. You can choose what you want.”
7. Pantries are a route to so much more
Food is often what brings people to Pantries. But once there, members find so much more.
Every single Pantry in the network offers some form of additional support or connection.
Sometimes that is helpful introductions to other services.
Sometimes it means bringing other services and opportunities into the Pantry.
Sometimes it means bringing members together to start making change happen themselves – such as in Peckham, Epsom and Portsmouth, where there are member steering groups, and where members are looking to take part in Speaking Truth To Power projects, opening the doors to many new opportunities.
Read more about the full impact of Pantries in our So Much More report...
In sum? Pantries are bringing huge benefits to individuals, families, neighbourhoods and society as a whole.
If you’d like to know more, or would like to discuss opening a pantry, visit yourlocalpantry.co.uk