We had to take the decision to close the Community Pantry due to the coronavirus pandemic back in March. We continued to support the community by offering care parcels to those who are vulnerable and/or struggling financially.
We then adapted the pantry by offering hampers of the surplus food we collect for a service contribution. This initiative will continue for those who prefer this way of accessing the surplus food.
However, we do recognise that this service does not replace the pantry, so along with St. Helen’s Parish Church committee members, we have taken steps to ensure both the parish hall and our pantry is COVID safe following current guidelines in order to reopen. Each step is conditional and can be reversible if we feel that public and our own safety is compromised.
There are a few changes and guidelines which we have had to implement to ensure everyone’s safety:
- Please refrain from using our pantry if you display COVID 19 symptoms; a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste or have been tested positive. For this reason, we will also ask anyone who has a persistent cough to refrain from using the pantry.
- Only one person/household bubble will be allowed to use the pantry at one time. We also ask users to shop alone where possible.
- We ask users to abide by the social distancing guidelines of 2 metres whilst waiting. Where this is not possible, we advise people to keep a social distance of ‘one metre plus’ whilst taking measures to reduce the risk of transmission.
- All users will be asked to use the hand sanitiser provided at the entrance prior to entering.
- We prefer card payments, but where this is not possible, we can still take cash payments. Users will be asked to give the correct change and deposit this in our cash box.
- As the pantry is a small indoor area, we ask that users wear a face covering unless exempt. Masks shall also be available at the pantry for those who do not have one.
- We will be keeping a temporary record of who attends the pantry for 21 days. This data may be provided to NHS Test and Trace if needed. (It is not compulsory for people to provide information but could help contain outbreaks).
- As we have a waiting system in place, we ask that users to be considerate of others whilst in the pantry and keep their visit brief.
- Staff and/or volunteers will be taking every precaution to keep both users and themselves safe.
We thank you for your patience and understanding
For the time being, we will not be accepting any donations of clothing or accessories.
The Community Pantry is open every Tuesday and Thursday, 10.00 am – 12.00 noon.
We are situated at St Helen’s Parish Hall, Middlewood Green, DL14 9DL with plenty of parking available.
(The building is the community centre next to the play area and accessed via the road next to the church)
What is the LCBC Community Pantry?
The Community Pantry is a small ‘store’ open to all members of the community and aimed at reducing food, non-food and plastic waste whilst helping everyone to save money.
What will be on offer?
As a charitable organisation, we collect surplus food such as bakery, storecupboard, fruit, vegetables, some chilled and frozen foods as well as various non-food items including flowers and occasionally clothing from local stores. These may be end of line products, food on or just past its best before date or simply surplus stock. The amounts and types of food and non-food vary so this will be reflected on what will be offered each week.
We can offer guidance and recipes on how to use the different foods (just like a traditional greengrocer or butcher) and how you can use leftovers. Leaflets on how to use up foods, recipes and recycling will also be available. We can also signpost the community to services and activities in the area through literature and our own knowledge of what is available.
As well as the pantry, we hope to encourage everyone to use and donate to a ‘pre-loved’ clothing rail offering good condition items. Rather than dropping these in a bin, we would love it if you could share them and/or use the clothing rail yourself or for your family. We know some clothing gets worn only a few times, or in the case of children, grown out of in what seems like moments, and it is a shame that the energy, time and work gone into making them is wasted for these to ultimately end up in landfill.
The rail also includes new clothing which we occasionally collect from stores.
The value of unused clothing in wardrobes has been estimated at around £30 billion. It is also estimated £140 million worth of clothing goes into landfill each year. Did you know that under composting circumstances, natural fibres such as cotton or wool are expected to break down in 6-12 months, yet synthetics take many more years, as many as hundreds?
How will it work?
All items will be available for a small service contribution reflective of what you take. An average basket of items from our shelves is £3 – £5. Any contributions will go towards covering costs such as the lease/energy, transportation, vehicle wear and tear and fuel. This will then help us to continue this project and hopefully towards other initiatives which we hope to offer.
We can accept card payments, PayPal or cash, whichever you prefer. At the moment, we prefer if you can make contactless payments.
We put a restriction of one basket per household and how many certain foods can be taken in order to make this fair to everyone.
We will be offering food loose where possible and ask for you to bring your own bags.
Will the food offered be safe to eat?
YES, YES, YES! The food we collect is surplus stock. This can be the result of over-ordering, stock which will not scan, a damaged box, donations from the public/shops, or some foods can be near, or past the best before date but this is still safe to eat. Best before refers to the quality of the food not the safety so for example, the texture may be different.
We will not and cannot by law pass on any foods for human consumption past their use by date. The only exception to this is foods which can be frozen. We can freeze foods on their use by date and label this appropriately with guidance of how to use. This is perfectly safe and legal as freezing acts as a ‘pause’ button.
Due to cross contamination of foods such as bakery, we have to advise that those with severe allergies should not use the pantry.
We wish to actively reduce the stigma and fear of consuming food past its best before date and truly believe that we need to return to using our own judgement on these foods and in doing so, reduce our food waste and therefore our impact on the environment.
We have also recently been awarded the highest 5* rating from our food hygiene inspection. Our high standards and observation of laws surrounding the passing on of surplus foods are there to ensure everyone’s safety.
Why we can’t provide bags and why we unpack foods?
Much of the plastic packaging and bags cannot be recycled at home in our area and due to their composition, they will take many years to break down. If we encourage everyone to bring their own bags to reuse again (and again), this will help to reduce the amount of plastic going to landfill.
Many foods wrapped in plastic sweat and deteriorate quicker and sometimes we are tempted to buy foods prepacked because they work out cheaper per product or there are no smaller options. Both reasons can lead to more food waste.
As you may be aware, we are facing a big shift in climate change so if we all did a little bit in reducing our carbon footprint by reducing our plastic waste as well as our food and general waste too, we may help to slow this change.
If we were to provide bags, we would also have to add an extra charge.
Reducing our waste, reusing what we can, and recycling can be a key part of a climate change strategy to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.
Are there any other benefits to this project?
Yes. Any foods which are not passed on and have reached their use by date such as bagged vegetables or bread that is very stale will be passed on to two local smallholders for animal feed and composting. This means that we reduce food waste even more.
For every five kilograms of food that we distribute, and you use, the impact is saving just over 16kg of CO2 going into the atmosphere. How great is that?
In small quantities, carbon dioxide (CO2) is no problem and actually needed by all plants for growth. However, excess CO2 in the atmosphere increases the greenhouse effect. More thermal energy is trapped by the atmosphere, causing the planet to become warmer than it would be naturally. This increase in the Earth’s temperature is called global warming.
Little Chefs Big Chefs CIC is a registered food business and we adhere strictly to our legal responsibilities to comply with food legislation in order to keep everyone safe.
We hope to help support our local community and would like to invite you all to be a part of this project through feedback, ideas and perhaps volunteering.
It is only through the support of the local community that we can work together to create change and a better place.
St Helen's Parish Hall, DL14 9DL
Although our Community Pantry project is currently funded, our initial phase is soon coming to an end and there may come a time when we have to fund this ourselves. The income we receive from contributions help to cover initiatives such as our FREE fruit or snack bags and small purchases we have to make, but unfortunately, is not enough to cover the core costs directly associated with the pantry.
We feel that our project is vital, not only to help distribute food at the end of the supply chain to save from going to landfill (thus impacting our environment) but to help save everyone money, especially in these times of economic uncertainty.
We are therefore asking for donations to help our Community Pantry continue for the benefit of the community.
We have also opened up our project for volunteer opportunities. Please get in touch if you wish to offer support in the pantry:
Jo: 07507 666 805
Your support will be greatly appreciated.
As a non-profit organisation, ALL income is accounted for and any profit has to be rolled back into the organisation.