Cirencester Pantry opened to reduce food waste
By Sarah Wood | 10th March 2023
Cirencester Pantry opened its doors last week, with the help of £6,350 from Cotswold District Council through its Cotswold Connected Community and Food Programme
Cirencester Pantry is a new project bringing neighbours together to help reduce food waste. The pantry works on a membership basis, where members pay a monthly subscription and receive a set amount of food every month.
Cotswold District Council has provided the start-up funding, but the project takes a sustainable approach with its membership scheme and will be self-funding in the future.
The initiative came from Park Community Group, put forward by Mary Cobbett and Cllr Claire Bloomer, and has been supported by Cirencester Round Table, as well as Cotswold District Council. It is an integral part of the district-wide food network and is working in partnership with other Cirencester charities, like the Foodbank and Cirencester Signpost.
Cirencester Pantry will run a weekly larder every Friday from 4pm to 7pm in Watermoor Church Hall. Membership is open to anyone, but the intake has been high and membership places are limited. Any further applications will be placed on the waiting list.
Cllr Jenny Forde, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: "It's great to see the first project up and running as part of the Cotswold Connected Community and Food Programme. This is a fantastic programme and I'm so glad our residents have come forward with their ideas to improve the community with a focus around food.
"Reducing food waste plays such a big part in tackling the climate crisis, and being able to do this and improve the health and wellbeing of our residents at the same time is such a brilliant thing!"
The project is a great support for people who are struggling with the cost of living. There is free coffee available, so members can stay and chat with others. There is also an opportunity for members to volunteer at the pantry.
Mary Cobbett from Park Community Group said: "We encourage active member participation to build a strong organisation that delivers to members what they want - quality food, at great value while helping reduce food waste. We also want to join other members to help build healthy communities through sharing food knowledge, recipes and activities promoting care for the environment and our neighbours.
"It was a delight to see new members at the opening session rolling up their sleeves, helping with the food distribution, having a coffee, meeting other members and chatting about their expectations and backgrounds."
Feeding Gloucestershire, in partnership with Cotswold District Council and Forest of Dean District Council, is running a virtual workshop on how to set up a community pantry. This is taking place on Wednesday March 22, 10am - 12pm on Zoom. To sign up, email the community wellbeing team at: Community.Support@cotswold.gov.uk.
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