A new joint venture project, The Warrington Food Pantry, to help improve the health and wellbeing of local residents has opened.
Warrington Food Pantry is the first of its kind in Warrington and is a joint venture between the council, local housing providers Clarion Futures of Clarion Housing Group, Torus and Warrington Foodbank.
The pilot project has been set up at Fearnhead Youth and Community Centre to support residents to improve their health and wellbeing.
People can be referred to the pantry by the council and local partners, including the Warrington Wellbeing service, Torus, Clarion, Citizens Advice Bureau and local GPs. Once registered, service users can pay a weekly £2.50 membership fee, which entitles them to choose a basket of 10 items of food worth up to £20.
The scheme emerged from the work of the council-led Welfare Reform Action Partnership, which highlighted an emerging need to support people who were struggling to pay their basic household bills, choosing between heating their homes and feeding their family.
The groceries will include fresh and healthy produce with menu cards to support people wanting to cook healthy, filling meals. There will also be opportunities to attend community cooking sessions, sharing ideas and tips for cooking on a budget.
Members will be offered other support services including help with budgeting, wellbeing advice and volunteering and training opportunities.
Cllr Maureen McLaughlin, cabinet member for housing, public health and wellbeing, and Chair of the Warrington Food Pantry group, said: “The food pantry will support people who find budgeting for food is a difficulty for them every week. It will provide temporary relief to help feed their families and also carries a more permanent aim to offer a supportive environment where members can develop their confidence with budgeting and cooking healthy meals.
“We hope this service will provide more long-term solutions for residents who find themselves in difficult situations, where food and money are a cause for concern.
“I’d like to thank all of our partners who have worked with us to research and develop this scheme. I’m grateful for the support of Clarion Futures, Torus, Warrington Foodbank and the council’s neighbourhood’s team for all the hard work that has gone into making this project possible.
“Together, we’d also like to thank our partners, Fareshare and Sellafield Ltd. for providing the food and kindly donating £5,000 of grant money.”
All activities aim to support residents to get out of food poverty, improving their wellbeing and tackling other issues they may be facing to enhance their quality of life. It is envisaged that customer’s memberships will last for approximately six months and, that with the support provided, they will be able to move forward with their lives.
Scott McKinven, financial inclusion manager at Clarion Futures, said: “Working with partners means that there’s so much more than food on offer to local people through the Warrington Food Pantry. By providing additional support, including access to free debt advice, money management guidance, and helping people to secure paid employment, we’ll be able to address some of the issues causing food insecurity and transform lives for the better.”
Gaynor Johnson, head of locality management at Torus, said: “Torus is committed to working with our local partners to identify and deliver projects to meet the needs of the local community.
“This project has enabled us all to work together to develop a new, accessible initiative, which aims to provide affordable food and essential support services directly to the people who need them.”