150 new Pantries to open: All your questions answered…

Your Local Pantry could be coming to a neighbourhood near you. Read on...

Your Local Pantry and Co-op have teamed up to treble the Pantry network within three years.

Today, there are 75 Pantries around the UK. That figure will rise to 225.

This Q&A aims to answer any questions you may have…

A blue bunting flag with the Coop and Your Local Pantry logos

1) What are Your Local Pantries?

Your Local Pantries are places that soften the blow of high living costs and bring people together around food.

Pantries strengthen communities, foster friendships, loosen the grip of poverty and contribute to healthier, happier lives.

Everyone should have ready access to good food, and everyone values community. Pantries are a win-win solution.

Each Pantry has a defined geographic area, and local residents can become members. Members pay a small amount each week, and in return, they choose at least ten items of food or other groceries, worth many times more.

Pantries are laid out like shops, and members choose their own items from a wide selection, including fresh, refrigerated, frozen and long-life foods. 

Each Pantry is run by a local organisation. Pantry hosts include community groups, charities, churches and local councils.

2) What makes Your Local Pantries special?

Several things – but here are three…

Firstly, the local membership model is really conducive to new relationships and friendships. Seeing people week after week, getting to know one another and discussing local issues with each other generates real power, camaraderie and togetherness.

As a result, many Pantries become springboards for new ideas that further strengthen communities.

Secondly, the element of choice is really important. It can be very hard to feel dignified and positive if you are receiving a pre-packed parcel that someone else has chosen.

We all have things we do or don’t like in our shopping, and are all accustomed to being able to make those choices. The Pantry approach recognises how important that is.

Thirdly, Pantries are positive, upbeat, happy places – the friendships that form, the ongoing financial boost, and the chance to be part of a forward-looking group all help to propel communities onwards.

3) How much do members save?

A Your Local Pantry member who attends every week can save in the region of £1,000 a year on their groceries.

Each Pantry sets its own weekly contribution amount, and not all members attend every week, so precise savings vary.

InterACT Pantry in Leeds: a green shipping container, with three people outside

4) How big is the network now?

At the time of writing, in late 2022, we have 75 Pantries, supporting about 80,000 people. 

5) Where are Pantries at the moment?

There are Pantries in all four nations of the UK. 

There are particular clusters in Edinburgh, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and South Wales.

6) Where will the new Pantries be?

That’s down to you! We are in discussions with lots of potential new partners, including in North East England, the west of Scotland, and Yorkshire. 

But we are ready to support openings anywhere in the UK!

We don’t unilaterally decide where to open a Pantry. Each Pantry is hosted and run by a local organisation, so the starting point is for an organisation to approach us.

Inside Your Local Pantry in Peckham.

7) I'm interested in opening a Pantry. What should I do?

If you are an individual, the best starting point is for you to talk to a local organisation who you think would be a good Pantry host. They need to be based in the community, with the physical space to host a Pantry.

Once you’ve done that, or if you are already part of a local organisation, let us know – we’d love to chat!

8) Where does the food come from?

A lot of the stock at Pantries comes via diversions in the national food supply chain, such as surpluses from producers or big retailers. The national charity Fareshare redirects those back into Pantries and other community-focused initiatives. Pantries also work with smaller local suppliers and producers, and can also use the money collected from memberships to buy additional stock when needed.

9) What do Pantry members say about it?

Good question! See for yourself! This video, and others on the playlist, include lots of first-hand messages from Pantry members around the country. 

You can also take a look at our 2021 social impact report, which includes lots of comments from members.

Members tell us they have joined for a wide variety of reasons…. Many say they enjoy being part of a community and meeting new people, some have environmental motives and are glad to be helping to reduce the risk of food being wasted, others primarily cherish the financial boost, freeing up money for other essentials. 

A blue bunting flag with the Coop and Your Local Pantry logos
A blue bunting flag with the Coop and Your Local Pantry logos

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