An innovative Sheffield scheme is throwing a vital lifeline to those in poverty whilst confronting the issue of food waste.
The Food Pantry Project is based at Park Centre in the city and is a community run organisation.
One of the founding members is Tracy Brown described the scheme: “It is a food club aimed at people who are struggling a bit with finances, a project where people can get food, that would otherwise be wasted but is still in perfectly good condition, at lower cost.”
Currently there are 60 members of the food club, a capacity that Park Centre hopes to raise, as the waiting list of users is growing.
When asked about the items available Tracy said: “It varies from week to week because we get our food from Fare Share which is an organisation that works with charities and national food producers and supermarkets, their role is to deal with food waste and food poverty.
“What I must say is that all the members are required to pay £2.50 per week to be member of The Pantry, that is also to show that they are making a contribution towards something, but also that £2.50 pays for the things we don’t get from Fare Share, so every week I’ll have to go out to buy some other items, in bulk, that we don’t get, like fresh vegetables, or canned goods) but I know people will want to acquire.”
Tracy works alongside a team of volunteers including Becks Powels who is on a placement from university.
Becks conveyed admiration at how well the project was taking off, saying: “There is a massive need for this, I didn’t think there would be such a big need for this project as there is.”
When asked what she hoped the users would get out of the project, Becks added: “I hope that people will get their self esteem back, maybe utilising food banks, and that in the end they wont need to use those, but I just hope that people will get a sense that they are now contributing to their food a little bit more.
“The Pantry Project is not a food-bank, it is a food project, a food club.”
Tracy added that their ultimate goal is to help people gain self-confidence and reliance again, concluding: “They can start doing more to help themselves and gain more confidence.”
Anyone who thinks they could benefit from the project can drop by on a Wednesday from noon to 7pm.
The Park Centre is located at Samson Street in the city centre.