Housing associations help Castlemilk pantry open its doors

A new pantry aiming to help people access healthy and affordable food has opened its doors to the community in Castlemilk.

Housing associations help Castlemilk pantry open its doors

Karen McDonagh, chair of Ardenglen’s Community Committee, Ardenglen chief executive Audrey Simpson and Ardenglen chairperson Liz McKenzie.

The Castlemilk Panty is the latest to spring up in Glasgow, is a much-needed boost for local families and has been driven forward by local housing associations.

It is located within Castlemilk Community Centre in Castlemilk Drive and launched last week.

Castlemilk’s housing associations have actively supported the pantry concept led by Ardenglen Housing Association supported enthusiastically by neighbours North View, Cassiltoun, Craigdale and Glasgow Housing Association.

The pantry operates by giving members who sign up for £1 a year access to around £15 worth of goods for a flat rate of just £2.50 per shop and got off to a flying start with 92 people signing up on day one.

Housing associations help Castlemilk pantry open its doors

Pantry shopper Leighann Ingram

It delivers a dignified approach to tackling food inequality and where pantries are already operating, they have proved an instant hit with local people.

The pantry also addresses the issue of food waste. Shockingly, £9.7 billion of food is wasted in the UK each year for a variety of reasons and we all have to learn to conserve food and throw out less.

The pantry will be stocked with a wide variety of fresh, frozen, dried and tinned products with special offers each week and will sell food purchased from another social enterprise – the UK’s longest running food redistribution charity FareShare

The Castlemilk pantry has been in the planning for over two years but was delayed by a year due to the pandemic.

Housing associations help Castlemilk pantry open its doors

The staff and volunteers behind the Castlemilk pantry

Its opening is ideally timed for the easing of rules for retail and other services being given the green light to restart.

Audrey Simpson, CEO of Ardenglen Housing Association, said: “This is a hugely significant development for the Castlemilk community as we tackle head-on the issue of food inequality and deliver a solution right on people’s doorstep.

“We encourage residents to sign up for membership and find out why the new pantry can be a cost-effective alternative deserving of local support.”

Fiona Hamilton, Castlemilk Pantry co-ordinator, added: “This is a landmark achievement for Castlemilk. To have our own pantry serving the local community is a great step forward in defeating food poverty and offering a value for money way of purchasing food. We’re delighted to be open for business.”

Housing associations help Castlemilk pantry open its doors

Fiona McGovern, regeneration officer at Ardenglen Housing Association, Sally Pritchard, community development worker and Fiona Hamilton, pantry co-ordinator

Staffed by volunteers it is currently open to everyone living in the G45 postcode area, with plans to open to other local communities, once it is established. The Pantry will be mostly staffed by volunteers. It will open initially for across two days per week from 10am – 3pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays then increasing to operating across 18 hours per week.

The pantry acknowledges the generous financial support given to the project which has come from the Scottish Government’s “Investing in Communities Fund”; Glasgow City Council Town Centre Action Plan Fund; Glasgow City Council “Communities Fund” and The National Lottery “Community Led Fund”.

The funding has meant two jobs have been created - the Pantry Co-ordinator and a Community Development Worker.

In addition the pantry is working with an organisation called “Raising Standards” who will support it with a Community Chef/Nutritionist.

Housing associations help Castlemilk pantry open its doors

The Community Chef/Nutritionist will deliver training to local people including certified cookery courses and deliver cookery demonstrations available in store and online.

The Community Development Worker will develop the Castlemilk “Pantry Plus” initiative which will go beyond the concept of a dignified approach to buying food. This role will help empower local people, build positive relationships and encourage them to seek support across a wide range of areas such as money advice, health and employment. It will also act to “signpost” people to other organisations offering help.

The Castlemilk Pantry is part of the Scottish Pantry Network which is made up of pantries from across Glasgow and Inverclyde where communities have come together to address the issues of hunger and food waste with a sustainable solution.

Pantry shopper Leighann Ingram, who is also volunteering to serve customers, added: “What a difference this will make to the Castlemilk community. I would encourage people to make full use of this brilliant new way to shop to ensure it is a big success.”

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