Almost 340 struggling local families are currently being supported by the Vale Pantry – and the team of volunteers are only too aware that there are many more in need of the service, without the means of getting to the Sturminster Newton charity. But thanks to a local firm, the new ‘Pantry on Wheels’ van is now able to bring the service directly to their door.
In 2020, at the height of the pandemic, the Vale Pantry was set up to answer a very real need, called for by the local GP surgery, The Blackmore Vale Partnership. It is a new breed of community resource: run entirely by volunteers, the Pantry is far more than a food bank. Instead it offers an exceptionally low cost membership to any family who are struggling financially. Originally planned to support 150 familes, the Pantry currently helps over 330 families living in North Dorset. It survives entirely through donations and with the assistance of local companies to help provide the invaluable service, including local supermarkets the Co-op and One-Stop who regularly donate food.
The team has this month been thrilled by the delivery of a van donated by Rose Engineering, a construction company based near Sturminster Newton. The van allows the team to both collect and deliver much-needed resources to those who are otherwise unable to benefit, and it is already out and about in the area.
Tom Rose, Managing Director at Rose Engineering said, “When we heard that The Vale Pantry were looking for a van so they could reach more local people in need of their food service, we knew we wanted to help. We know, with living costs rising, many families and individuals are in need of their service. They do such an amazing job and we hope the new ‘Pantry on wheels’ will be able to reach many more in need.”
Carole Jones, Trustee of The Vale Pantry said, “We are so excited to be able to extend our services across the whole of the North Dorset area, through into Henstridge and Templecombe too. These are areas which are not served well with food projects, and certainly nothing like the Pantry. It is estimated that 15 per cent of those living in the area are without a car – simply accessing services like the Pantry is incredibly difficult for those who most need it. Now our van can bring the service to their doorstep.
“While food banks support a crisis, the Vale Pantry looks to support the longer journey to help families and households get back on their feet.” Carole said “Some people stay with us for just a short while and others, due to their circumstances, need us for the longer term. Our aim is to help people back on their feet through a variety of interventions – we call it a hand up, not a hand out. If you see us out and about in the van, do give us a wave!”
** Members of the Pantry may visit once a week, paying a £6 membership fee before choosing the food they would like for the week ahead. The variety of foods available include fresh fruit & veg, chilled and frozen produce (including meats, fish, cheese etc.) and store cupboard essentials. A typical weekly shop taken home is worth in the region of £25 to £50.
To find out more – to either support the Pantry with donations or to register as a member – please visit https://valepantry.co.uk/, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07968 348481.