The new food banks? Our plans for a social supermarket franchise!

Your-Local-Pantry-logoChurch Action on Poverty  is launching a new project that will enable people on low incomes across the UK to avoid the Poverty  Premium and escape food poverty, by getting good food at fair prices. Our Business Development Officer Dave Nicholson explains…

We’ve been exploring innovative ways for poorer communities to avoid unfairly high prices on everyday essentials like food, fuel and finance. We were excited and inspired by Your Local Pantry, a project of Stockport Homes. So we’ve worked with them for a year to turn the idea into a ‘social franchise’, giving other communities the tools to set up their own Pantries. We have piloted the franchise with Pantries in Manchester’s Moss Side and in Rochdale. We are now ready to offer  franchises to social landlords, local authorities, community organisations and churches across the country.

Your Local Pantry will be a network of community cooperative food stores, run by volunteers for the benefit of their members in low-income communities. An article in The Guardian in March 2017 described the idea positively, as an alternative to the food bank model.

A Pantry is a membership scheme aimed at helping people make their money go further by:

  • reducing food shopping bills (members can save over £500 each year);
  • providing advice and support;
  • developing skills.

Since 2013, Pantries have already provided over 900 families  in Stockport with access to affordable groceries.

“The pantry is a lifeline for me; I don’t have much money. If I didn’t have this I would not have food on some days, there’s many a time I would have gone without.”

For just £2.50 a week Pantry members can choose at least 10 items of groceries, with the average shopping basket often worth in excess of £12.50, which is a potential saving of £520 per year.

“It’s a massive help.”

Each Pantry is run by volunteers, and provides opportunities for people looking to gain work experience, give something back to their community or just spend a few hours getting to know their neighbours.

“It’s good food, not out-of-date rubbish, and being a member of  the Pantry cooperative makes it much cheaper.”

The Pantry also provides further support to members with initiatives such as ‘cookery demonstrations’ encouraging people to cook from scratch using ingredients from the Pantry, and links with local services such as the Health Trainers, credit union and Stockport Homes’ various support services.

“Although I’m working I still can’t make ends meet. Being a member of the Pantry helps me keep my head above water.”

Some achievements in Stockport so far:

  • 73 tonnes of surplus food redistributed to Pantry Members  from  Fareshare
  • 56.5 tonnes  of fruit and vegetables redistributed to Pantry Members
  • Over 65 volunteers have contributed their time to the Stockport Pantries
  • 9 volunteers have gone on to find full-time employment
  • 1,156 households have benefited from the Pantry Scheme

Stockport Homes could get funding for a bicycle delivery scheme for their Pantries – if you vote for them in the National Lottery People’s Projects! Click here to show your support.

To find out how to set up your own Pantry, contact Dave on 0161 872 9294 or dave@church-poverty.org.uk

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