It’s official, a Community Pantry is coming to Allens Cross! With its grand opening on 14 May, St Bart’s Community Pantry is going to be providing an essential service in the Allens Cross community.
What will the Community Pantry do?
The Community Pantry has already been open since 5 March, operating on a subscription model. For £5 a week, pantry members can have access to a range of food, including fresh fruit and veg, which will often value in the £15-20 range.
I spoke with Teresa Hussey the pantry’s coordinator, about why the project started, and why Allens Cross is such an important area for it:
“It is a high area of deprivation. We have one of the highest numbers of children who are on free school meals nationally, we have a growing group of asylum seekers, particularly Syrian asylum seekers joining our area. During the pandemic, we could see the food banks were being pushed to breaking point, there just was not enough to go around.”
To get the pantry off the ground more than a year’s hard work was put into winning grant funding from the National Lottery, the Heart of England Community Foundation, and the Cole Charitable Trust.
The pantry opened at a particularly opportune time, as the cost of living spiked for many across the UK. The impact of this crisis quickly became clear; while Teresa anticipated that the pantry would have 30 weekly visitors by the end of the first month, 90 people already regularly use the pantry.
Food and Community
As well as providing key supplies much cheaper than supermarkets, the team at St Bart’s are keen to do as much good in the community as they can.
Alongside the Community Pantry, they are also running a Place of Welcome at the Florence Pickering Centre to provide a place for people to socialise, and counter the increasing crisis of isolation. They will also be working alongside Allens Cross Community Garden, to provide six-week courses to help residents cook healthy food on a budget, primarily with a slow cooker. As Teresa said “we’re thinking about the future all the time with what we’re doing”.
Plenty more to be done
As the work of the pantry grows, plenty more needs to be done, and St Bart’s are always looking for volunteers to help run sessions. Any donations are welcome, particularly of dried non-perishable food, toiletries, and feminine hygiene products.
The pantry runs regular sessions on Mondays from 1:30 – 3:30pm, and Saturdays from 12:30 – 3:30pm, at Allens Cross Community Centre. Be sure to come if you can, and to show up to the grand opening on 14 May!
If you want to get involved with the Pantry, get in touch with Teresa at [email protected] or call 07568 528 826