Local pantries in Bridgwater (Victoria Park), Yeovil (Westfield) and Chard opened their doors in the spring and are now celebrating six months of supporting their communities.
The Local Pantry Network consists of nine pantries which collects surplus food and makes it available to its members at a low weekly rate, to help reduce food waste, feed families and save them money.
Members of the scheme can sign up to a membership, which can last from six weeks to six months, and the local pantry in Westfield is now operating a mini pantry for members to move on to following the end of their membership.
The initiative is a partnership between Somerset Council, local community groups and food charities, FareShare South West and Action Against Hunger.
Cllr Theo Butt Philip, Lead Member for Transformation and Human Resources at Somerset Council, said:
It’s encouraging to see The Local Pantry Network expanding across Somerset and reaching more people.
We are proud that the pantries in Victoria Park, Westfield and Chard are thriving after six months.
At a time when many people are struggling, The Local Pantry Network is using clever and creative ways to ensure members are fully supported, and the mini-panty offer demonstrates this.
Marie Rice, Manager at St Peter’s Community Centre in Yeovil said:
The mini pantry idea came from the Rowbarton Pantry in Taunton. It inspired us to open one at Westfield as a supportive steppingstone to help individuals at the end of their membership stay connected with the community, whilst allowing someone else to benefit from the main scheme.
Over the past six months, the Westfield Pantry has built a community within itself. We ensure nothing is wasted from donations or deliveries and our community centre cook utilises all leftovers to produce healthy balanced meals in our food hub.
Laura Fowler, Manager at Victoria Park Community Centre in Bridgwater, said:
The Victoria Park Local Pantry has been a wonderful addition to our Community Centre, the volunteers are supportive and members value the opportunity to select products they will definitely use in order to save them from being wasted.
Over the past six months we have many stories of community spirit, from supporting individuals at a time of need, to ensuring left over perishables get cooked up into frozen meals for a much wider benefit.
We look forward to new members coming on board as we approach our six-month birthday.
Pantries are always on the lookout for volunteers, so if you would like to get involved with one in your area, please email TheLocalPantry@somerset.gov.uk or call 07557 481418.
Action Against Hunger recently made a film about the pantries, highlighting the positive impact they’re making in communities. Watch it here: www.youtube.com/thesomersetlocalpantrynetwork.
Full details of The Local Pantry Network can be found here: www.somerset.gov.uk/localpantry.