A community pantry launched in May is now supporting around 100 members in Longhedge, Old Sarum and the wider Laverstock and Ford Parish area.
They have room for more members and invite those who feel they need help to come and join.
The pantry is run by a mix of volunteers with support from the housing association, Abri. It’s a local partnership with support from Laverstock and Ford Parish Council, who provide funding and space at the Longhedge and Old Sarum Community Centre.
The pantry is open to customers, who all pay £1 a year to be members, on Tuesday evenings between 8:30 pm and 9:00 pm and Wednesday mornings from 9 am until 12:30 pm.
Jess Tarrant, from Abri, and Nina Cope, who runs the Longhedge and Old Sarum Community Centre, work with the team of volunteers, including Gemma Philips, to coordinate the food from various sources, including Southern Fareshare in Totton and some local suppliers, including M&S.
Gemma told Salisbury Radio, “It’s about giving something back to the community. People are finding things hard, and I don’t see that stopping soon. We are here to help and for a chat, too, if people need it.”
As well as the pantry shop, which runs on a points system, there is also the offer of free tea or coffee and a snack or a piece of cake when people visit to choose their food.
Members can choose between either 10 points for £3.50 or 15 points for £5.00, with some items like fresh fruit and veg being free. Members can pay by cash or card.
There is no need to be referred, and Gemma urges people struggling to use the facility. “We don’t judge people, and once people come in for the first time, generally, they come back and shop with us again. We are a community, and people really appreciate that.”
The pantry doesn’t always know what it will collect each Tuesday from FareShare and will supplement what is donated with purchases from supermarkets to ensure members have enough options to create meals.
Gemma added, “Sometimes it can be a struggle to create meals with what is available that week, so we have started creating meal and recipe suggestions and are always on hand to help when people need it.”
The pantry team are looking for more volunteers to help collect donations from Totton on Tuesdays, sorting the food items received and with more general tasks when they are open. If you feel like you can help out, please get in touch with the team via their Facebook page or by email – email@example.com
You can also donate food during their opening hours or at Salisbury Football Club home games.
For more information, visit their Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100093811466997
During the colder months and starting later this month, the pantry will also be a Warm Space for people to come to; hot drinks and food will be available. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for updates.
As well as the Pantry, the Longhedge and Old Sarum Community Centre is at the heart of the community with a youth club every other Monday, and they also host a Chatty Cafe session.