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Local Pantry to launch in Rowbarton

22 March 2021 : Council news, Community, Partnership working

SWT is working in partnership with Somerset County Council, Rowbarton Methodist Church and surplus food charity, FareShare, to pilot a county-wide Local Pantry project.

Based at Rowbarton Methodist Church, The Local Pantry Rowbarton will be the first of its kind piloted in the Somerset West and Taunton area.

With support from SWT and its partners, it will be run by community volunteers who will coordinate weekly boxes of low-cost, nutritious food to around thirty households in North Taunton.

The project’s initial set up costs for essentials such as fridges and storage have been funded using a relief grant from Central Government.

The Coronavirus pandemic has exposed a rise in childhood hunger and in-work poverty, with many residents from lower income areas struggling to put meals on the table.

In response, the ‘Local Pantry model’ has proved to work very well in other areas of the UK, proving a sustainable and long-term solution to households where budgets are under pressure.

The Local Pantry Rowbarton will officially open on Tuesday, 23 March, operating as a membership scheme to enable households to budget for their food.  Members will be able join for up to six months, paying just £3.50 a week which is equivalent to an annual estimated saving of £1,144.

Once registered, residents can expect to receive ten to fifteen items to stock up their cupboard and fridge every Tuesday.  In addition to shelf-stable food, fresh produce such as meat, dairy, fruit and vegetables will be offered that would otherwise go to waste.

Also on offer will be advice and information to help manage finances, alongside other future planned activities to reduce isolation, improve health and well-being.

All preparation, handling and collecting of food will follow best standards of cleanliness – volunteers will abide by social distancing to protect both residents and themselves.

Talks with other community groups are already in progress and depending on the success of the pilot, it is hoped that the project can be rolled-out to more areas across the county.

Cllr Chris Booth, Executive Member for Community, said: “Local pantries are just one of a number of schemes we’re considering to help communities become more sustainable.  It helps local people access low cost food on a regular basis, whilst preventing perfectly good food from going to waste.

“Because of our local networks, we’re in a great position to trial this project as part of a larger county-wide plan to introduce between four to five pantries in each district.

“By working with our partners, we’re committed to rolling-out the Local Pantry model to communities across the Somerset West and Taunton area, and with support from our Environmental Health and Community Resilience teams, we’re confident it will run smoothly.”

Residents who are interested in joining as a member and live within the Rowbarton vicinity (approximately a fifteen minute journey from Rowbarton Methodist Church), can register via: https://forms.gle/nBXUYGTfDK2YpqgC8.

A Facebook page promoting The Local Pantry Rowbarton has also just been launched: https://www.facebook.com/The-Local-Pantry-Rowbarton-111418071028326.

Anyone who would like to help out as a volunteer is encouraged to contact Team Leader, Gillian Flick, by emailing Rowbartonpantry@gmail.com.