Since launching in 2014, Stockport Homes have successfully developed four ‘Your Local Pantry’ schemes across Stockport, with the initiative now being rolled out across the UK.
Pantries go beyond the food bank model, creating a sustainable and long-term solution to food poverty. Members pay a small weekly fee, typically £2.50, for which they can choose at least ten items of food each week, along with additional opportunities of volunteering and training.
Interviewees reported improved financial positions, improved health and wellbeing and reduced isolation. The report also found that for every £1 invested that Pantries have generated a £6 return in social value.
The Your Local Pantry project, run jointly by Stockport Homes and Church Action on Poverty is now being rolled out nationwide, with communities invited to set up their own affiliated Pantries, to emulate the success in Stockport and unlock food poverty in their area.
Tanya King, Social Inclusion Manager at Stockport Homes, said
Food poverty is a reality as incomes stagnate with little prospect of increasing. The Pantry model is an effective way to make sure that people’s budgets go further. The benefits of Pantries are numerous: they provide breathing space for struggling families; they offer fresh food to households that would otherwise be limited to cheap, less healthy food; and they tackle social isolation. Pantry members we spoke to said the Pantries had allowed them to have enough money to pay for essential bills, or to save for Christmas or to visit family.
One Pantry member said
With the food bank, I feel like I’m lowering myself. I’d rather go without food. And it’s local, people I know are there. The Pantry feels different because you have paid and you are making a choice on the food you take home.
Niall Cooper, director of Church Action on Poverty, said
We have long been exploring ways for communities to take control of food poverty, so they can overcome rising prices in a way that goes beyond the food bank approach. Your Local Pantries do exactly that, and we’re looking forward to hearing from and working with more neighbourhoods all over the country.