04th Aug 2023

Half a year on: Penny Mordaunt MP’s Food Pantry Initiative looks to expand to support even more families across Portsmouth North.

Half a year on: Penny Mordaunt MP’s Food Pantry Initiative looks to expand to support even more families across Portsmouth North and launches new volunteer recruitment scheme.

In 2022, Penny Mordaunt MP looked to establish a network of new Community Food Pantries where there was a need and a gap in provision. Paulsgrove, Baffins, Hilsea and Stamshaw /Tipner were identified as areas that would benefit from such an initiative.

Six months ago, The Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP, together with Pantry Partners such as The HIVE, Comserv, Liquid Friday, The Southern Co-Op, Portsmouth News as well as Portsmouth City Council, the new Food Pantry in Paulsgrove opened, as did the Baffins Community Pantry, run by community champion Jeanette Smith and local volunteers.

The new food pantries are an initiative designed to combat food insecurity in Portsmouth North. This week, we mark the passing of the half-year milestone of opening to the public and Penny has marked the week to celebrate and thank volunteers and all those who have helped make the Community Food Pantries a success.

The Food Pantry model, working together with local volunteers has become a lifeline for many families, offering them access to a weekly shop for as little as £4 – saving a user an average of around £800 per year. Its impact has been massive and new pantries are being set up to complement the existing ones, broadening their reach and impact.

The new Food Pantries stand apart from traditional food banks, providing a wider range of products, similar to small convenience stores and they provide support and advice and items like school uniforms and toys too. Staffed entirely by dedicated volunteers, they not only offer affordable groceries but also create a warm and supportive space for community members. Unlike food banks, access to which are often restricted, the facilities are open to everyone, removing stigma. They are also a more sustainable model.

The money paid by Food Pantry users for their weekly shop is reinvested into sustaining the pantry’s supplies to support families with the cost of living.

And this week we are proud to launch our new volunteer scheme. So many pantry users and members of the public ask regularly how they can get involved and give back to their community. The Food Pantry in Paulsgrove is now at a stage where we can welcome more volunteers and support them, provide training and look to possibly provide additional opening hours.

Penny said, “We have now proven that the pantry concept can be successful and The Paulsgrove and Baffins Community Pantry are a lifeline for many families struggling with increased food and household costs. Volunteering is in the British spirit and anyone who wants to get involved; whether that be donating your time, food, or allotment-grown vegetables and fruit or any financial donations to the pantries should get in touch. Both existing pantries support over 130 families in their respective areas. And more is planned. I have plans to open a further pantry in the Hilsea area too.”

For those interested in supporting the Food Pantry initiative or seeking more information about volunteering, please contact:

02392 375377 or email [email protected]