Love is in the air at Victoria Park Local Pantry (VPLP) in Bridgwater as volunteers celebrate one year of serving the community on 14 February.

VPLP is part of the Somerset Local Pantry Network (SLPN), who buy and collect surplus food and make it available to members for a low weekly fee. Each local pantry helps reduce food waste and makes food affordable for local families which saves them money.

A small celebration took place to mark the birthday which welcomed guests including, Cllr Theo Butt Philip, Lead Member responsible for Partnerships and Localities at Somerset Council, the Mayor of Bridgwater, Cllr Mick Lerry and Mayoress of Bridgwater, Cllr Liz Marsh, along with the pantry’s staff and volunteers who all enjoyed speeches, a cake cutting and raffle.

The team have a lot to be proud of; within the first six months, the pantry was fully subscribed with 30 members, and by working with FareShare South West, they contribute to saving 1800 tonnes of food from going to waste each year.

VPLP consists of a team of 10 volunteers who were recently recognised in FareShare South West’s Social Impact Awards 2023, winning the Social and Community Award as members of the SLPN .

As a generous birthday present, the pantry received a donation of £700 from the Mayor and Mayoress of Bridgwater. The money will help ensure the pantry can continue to deliver affordable food to the local community while preventing food waste.

Laura Fowler, Manager at Victoria Park Community Centre said:

The Pantry has become a significant part of the community. Feedback shows that members value the volunteers and the pantry.

It enables people to join the food waste fight but has also been a real support to people throughout the cost-of-living crisis, leading to the volunteers and members building wonderful relationships.

My ambition is to grow the pantry in 2024.

Cllr Butt Philip said:

It was a real honour to be invited to celebrate the Victoria Park Local Pantry’s first birthday with the team and the Mayor and Mayoress of Bridgwater.

They have achieved so much in their first year; from supporting 30 Bridgwater households, saving tonnes of food from going to waste, and becoming award winners – all in just 12 months! They should be incredibly proud of themselves – Somerset Council is certainly proud of them.

Wishing everyone at VPLP a happy birthday and we look forward to seeing what else you achieve by your second birthday!”

SLPN is a partnership between Somerset Council, local community groups and food charity, FareShare South West.

Somerset Council provides initial grant money and support to help the launch of a new pantry, but each pantry is independently run by voluntary sector groups.

Food charity, Action Against Hunger, made a film about the Somerset pantries, highlighting the positive impact they make in communities. Watch it here:

Full details of SLPN can be found here:

A group shot featuring Cllr Theo Butt Philip, the Mayor and Mayoress of Bridgwater, along with staff and volunteers of the local panty.

About this article

February 15, 2024

Jade Chant


Local pantries

Press Release