First of its kind pantry opens to support food insecure community

The ‘Woodside Pantry’ development project is opening on Tuesday, February 12, 2019 in the Woodside Community Centre, Aberdeen.

Scotland’s first, pantry-style food poverty scheme aims to reduce dependency on food banks among vulnerable families within the priority catchment area of the project. Two third-sector organisations are working in partnership to deliver this service: Community Food Initiatives North East (CFINE), which operates FareShare Grampian; and Fersands and Fountain Community Project.

Food bank providers report that the requirement for emergency food parcels increased greatly in the past five years in Aberdeen. Partners of the project believe whilst food banks address an immediate need, they are not helpful in the long term as they create dependency and erode dignity. The project approaches poverty in a holistic way; understanding and tackling the reasons why beneficiaries became food insecure through a range of additional services, while making affordable food available to them.

“I am very excited to be the part of this new development, the first in Scotland, that provides an alternative to food banks and allows its users to seek help and company in an environment where they are not beneficiaries of a service but members of a community," said Christine McLean, Woodside Pantry development worker at CFINE. “Many of those who are food insecure will not visit a food bank because of the stigma. We are looking to open a new door of help for those who struggle to make ends meet. CFINE will roll out the Pantry project in other regeneration areas of Aberdeen city and the shire over the next two years.”

“FareShare Grampian is committed to supporting this innovative development in Woodside. Community pantries provide a dignified alternative to food banks, utilising perfectly good in-date surplus food that would otherwise go to waste," added Graeme Robbie, FareShare Grampian manager.

“This initiative does not only provide access to affordable and healthy food for the Fersands and Fountain community, but a place to socialise and connect with the locals," said Claire Whyte, community worker at Fersands and Fountain Community Project. “The Woodside Pantry builds community strength; volunteers are developing and managing this service for their own community.”

Members of the Woodside Pantry will pay the annual membership fee of £3 and an additional cost of – £2.50 – per weekly shop. All members are entitled to one shop of 10 items per week. Available products are ‘weighted’ by value, ensuring an equal distribution of fish, meat, fresh fruit, vegetables and ambient goods between the members. CFINE intends the Woodside Pantry to be the first of a network in Aberdeen to be established over the next few years.

The Pantry is a Scottish Government and Aberdeen City Council funded initiative. FareShare Grampian will stock up the shelves of the Woodside Pantry with surplus from the food industry, giving a chance to the members for a healthy and varied diet.

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