The Guinness Partnership is supporting the Munch community food pantry, at the Dickinson Centre, Park Community School in Havant.
The Pantry provides a sustainable way to support local residents and help them ‘top up’ on nutritious food while managing a tight budget.
Set up in autumn 2020, the Pantry first opened in the Swallow Pub in Havant but after the pub sold in December 2021, Munch found its feet at the Dickinson Centre.
Working alongside Park Community School and Havant Borough Council, The Guinness Partnership has provided funding for the infrastructure, staffing, food and start-up costs of the pantry.
Offering members of the public access to affordable and healthy food for a small weekly subscription, food pantries play an increasingly important role.
Just like any other food shop, members can choose what they want from the shelves.
Brian Hamlin, Guinness community partnership manager said: ‘Food pantries are a response to food poverty and provide much needed support to our residents, and those in the wider area.’
‘We are proud to have been able to help the Munch Food Pantry deliver this essential service, especially in a time of unprecedented community need.’
With help from Hampshire County Council’s Connect 4 Communities grant, the Munch Pantry has now established 15 other locations in Hampshire.
Guinness residents, and those from the wider community, can access high-quality, heavily discounted groceries supplied by a variety of organisations including FareShare and UK Harvest. In return for a £5 payment, people can select high-quality food worth in excess of £15. Over 400 people regularly use the Pantry each month, and more than 500 people have now signed up.
Susan Parish is the business and community manager at the Park Community School, and in December was made an MBE for her work with the school’s Munch project and the Munch Community Pantry.
She said: 'We are extremely grateful that The Guinness Partnership had the vision and faith, along with Havant Borough Council, to try something new to assist the community.’
‘The Pantry has proved extremely popular, and usage continues to increase. Customers can come and use it, without any formal referral, and will receive a membership card.’
This initiative and others like it comes as help to an issue of food insecurity in the aftermath of the pandemic, with 4.7m adults and 2.3m children living in a household which experienced food insecurity.
The Pantry’s customers are able to self-refer themselves to the service, and staff may direct them to additional support services, offering further support to those who may need it.
Opening hours are Monday to Friday, from 11am to 2.30pm. For further information visit pcs.hants.sch.uk/pantry.php.