Struggling families are invited to join the island’s first community food pantry where “members” can enjoy a range of produce to stock their kitchens.

The pantry operates every Tuesday from 1.30pm to 3.30pm and every Wednesday and Thursday from 10.30am to 12.30pm at the Community Spirited Cafe in Vectis Road, East Cowes.

The food pantry aims to give a helping hand to those in need by providing food at a lower price than can be found in supermarkets on a weekly basis.

The article continues below this ad

Access to the pantry is through membership, and for a weekly contribution of £5 members receive food of significantly greater value.

Since its launch last Tuesday, 44 residents have already registered.

The Isle of Wight Council coordinates the scheme through its successful connect4communities scheme, with funding from the Department for Work and Pensions.

Jane Allchom, manager of the Community Spirited Cafe, said:

The article continues below this ad

“When the council approached me about the funding available, I knew the food pantry would be a much needed benefit to our community. We have been working tirelessly to get this launched as soon as possible. The timing was perfect and attendance jumped into double digits on the first day.

“The pantry offers an accompanying service and we are always close to the teapot! We will refer people to other services if they need additional help.

“We are affectionately known as the heart of East Cowes; the food pantry is another addition to the many care and support services we offer.

“Thanks to the funding, we were able to hire one of our volunteers, which is such a nice feeling.”

The article continues below this ad

The East Cowes Pantry was opened last week with Councilor Tracy Reardon, Mayor of East Cowes, cutting the ribbon.

2 more pantries at Oakfield Primary School, Ryde and Baby Box in Ventnor are set to open soon.

Councilor Debbie Andre, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said:

“I was delighted to be at the launch of our first Island Community Pantry in East Cowes.

“This would not have been possible without the persistence and dedication of the team who worked tirelessly to bring this initiative to the island and the enthusiasm of Community Spirited, where the East Cowes Community Pantry is based.

“Also, over time, community food pantries will be able to provide additional support to members. It is the first of several community pantries planned for the island and fulfills the council’s commitment to reducing poverty, especially among families.

If you are an organization interested in opening a community pantry on the island, contact Laura Hales, connect4communities project manager, by email at [email protected] or call 01983 821000.

Don’t miss another story! Get the The latest island news delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for our daily newsletter here.

Norma P. Rex