Last week we marked the 1-year anniversary of Epsom Pantry opening its doors, with the aim of providing greater dignity and choice to people experiencing poverty and food insecurity in our community. Epsom Pantry Manager Bex Loomes writes:
As soon as you walk through the door of Epsom Pantry you feel the buzz of a busy grocery shop, filled with friendly faces, fresh fruit and vegetables, and a welcoming atmosphere. ‘It is my favourite place to be outside of my own home’ said one member of Epsom Pantry, whilst another said, ‘being able to get the basic essentials means I will eat breakfast and lunch, which otherwise I would miss.” One member emphasised that ‘the impact of the Pantry on my family is bigger than people realise. It is not just eating. It is quite literally a life saver.’ These are just a few of the many comments we have heard at Epsom Pantry since it opened back in July 2022.
Since then, Epsom Pantry has flourished into a busy community hub centred around food. Opening 5 times a week we offer affordable and healthy food, access to information and support, as well as opportunities to volunteer and learn new skills.
For many of our members it is the network of support from the Pantry community that has had the biggest impact on their wellbeing. We have seen long lost friends reunited, shoppers sharing new recipe ideas, and people sitting down with a coffee to chat to new friends, in a space they feel is their own. In our impact survey, 78% of members reported feeling more confident and more connected to the local community since becoming a member of Epsom Pantry, as well as 93% of members saying they feel like a valued member of the Pantry. One member reflects that ‘in the beginning I felt a bit like a failure and burst into tears, but the staff made me feel at ease, they beam when you come in, it is such a warm atmosphere.’
1 year on, Epsom Pantry now has 170 members with over 100 members coming in to shop each week. This means we are supporting over 290 adults and 225 children weekly. Since July 2022 there have been 3,878 member visits. With each grocery shop totalling to around £35 worth of meat, dairy, store cupboard essentials, fruit, and vegetables, and only costing members £5, this means members have saved £116,340 across the year.
We know that the Pantry is a means of strengthening people’s financial and emotional resilience, with 92% of our members saying they are now less anxious about feeding themselves and their family. Whilst 79% agree that it has given them more choice over the food they eat, helping to reduce levels of food insecurity. For one member the Pantry ‘means I can feed my family healthier food and not feel like they’re missing out’, with another agreeing that ‘in the supermarkets I can only look at things I can afford to buy, not that I want to buy. That doesn’t happen here.’
We are proud of the network of support that has formed through the Pantry and are grateful to all the members, volunteers, supporters, and funders that have built this.
If you’d like to support Epsom Pantry then please visit our donation page: https://epsomandewellfoodbank.enthuse.com/cf/epsom-pantry or follow us on social media @epsompantry to find out our monthly donation requests.