Over 100 struggling locals have signed up at Your Local Pantry at the YMCA North Staffordshire and will be able to save on their weekly shopping bills, thanks to this new project that has opened this week.
Your Local Pantry was officially launched by Miss Stoke on Trent, Harjis Bains and is an initiative that will be run and used by local people at the Campus Shop to help tackle food poverty.
The project which launched this week saw Miss Stoke on Trent Curve 2020 Harjis Bains officially opening the pantry, with residents also enjoying a community meal of macaroni cheese and crispy onions to mark the occasion.
Members can go along and pick from a range of items including cereals, meats, breads, tinned foods, cakes, salads and veg, and make delicious meals such as chicken curry, homemade hummus and paprika chips.
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.
Daniel Flynn, CEO of YMCA North Staffordshire, said: “We have partnered with “Your Local Pantry” a community shop idea birthed by the Church Action on Poverty in Manchester, as a way to make sure people in economically challenged areas, blighted by austerity can have access to reasonably priced food.
“The difference is that this model takes a community membership approach, members pay £3.50 a week and are guaranteed £12.00 worth of items.
“YMCA North Staffordshire believes people are the asset and our membership model helps to strengthen and grow each other to begin to thrive.”
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 fare share, 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.
Pantry, after initial projects have 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.”