With many people in the UK experiencing chronic or reoccurring food insecurity, food pantries (sometimes called food clubs or food hubs) are one form of initiative looking to develop longer term, sustainable routes out of food poverty.

In July, Your Local Pantry working in partnership with Church Action on Poverty produced an impact report reflecting on their 4 years’ experience of running food pantries in Stockport and Greater Manchester. This report explains how pantries work and what impact they are having in local communities:

Does it work? A food pantry operates on a membership scheme designed to help money go further. Members pay a small amount (e.g. £2.50) for each visit to a pantry. This gives them access to choose from a range of significantly reduced items sourced through charities such as FairShare. Unlike a foodbank, members do not need referrals, instead at Your Local Pantry they must live locally and satisfy some basic low-income criteria. Pantries are staffed by volunteers who may also be members.

What impact does it have? Pantry membership saved Your Local Pantry members up to £650 per year, however it also has other benefits including reducing social isolation, diversification of diet and reducing financial stress - which can be an important factor related to poor mental health.

How can I respond? Support and signpost people to pantries in your area such as L15 Food Hub. Not got one local to you? Consider starting one - Your Local Pantry has recently launched as a national movement. Details of their franchise and the support structures offered for those interested in finding out more about starting a food pantry in their area are available in the report or on their website.

Read the impact report here.