Cirencester Pantry opened to reduce food waste

Cirencester Pantry opened its doors last week with help of £6350 from Cotswold District Council through its Cotswold Connected Community and Food Programme

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 Cirencester Pantry is a new member-based 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 have provided £6350 to the Cirencester Pantry as a start-up fund, however the project takes a sustainable approach with its membership scheme and will therefore 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 our district-wide food network that is emerging and is working in partnership with other Cirencester charities like the Foodbank and ‘Cirencester Signpost’.

The Cirencester Pantry will run a weekly larder every Friday from 4pm to 7pm in Watermoor Church Hall. The membership is open to anyone however the intake has been so high and membership places are limited. Any further applications will be placed on the waiting list.

The project aims to bring neighbours together to help reduce food waste and is also a great support for people who are struggling with the cost of living. In addition, the pantry is great way for people to connect as there is free coffee available so they can stay and chat with other members.. There is also an opportunity for members to volunteer at the pantry.

Mary Cobbett 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.”

To keep up to date with the Cirencester Pantry you can follow their Facebook page.

Feeding Gloucestershire, in partnership with Cotswold District Council and Forest of Dean District Council, are running a virtual workshop on how to set up your own community pantry. This is taking place on Wednesday 22 March, 10am – 12pm on Zoom. To sign up please email the Community Wellbeing team at: Community.Support@cotswold.gov.uk

To find out more information about the Cotswold Connected Community and Food Programme you can visit our webpage: https://www.cotswold.gov.uk/ConnectedCommunityProgramme/

If you have initiative you think would benefit the community, you can apply here: https://forms.gle/owMvPdcK1arovSku9

If you have any questions, please contact us via email: Community.Support@cotswold.gov.uk

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