Food poverty sadly affects people from all walks of life, even in the heart of Chelsea, a stone’s throw from the world-famous Harrods Food Hall and the retail choices of Sloane Square.
An initiative set up by a consortium of housing associations in the area – Southern Housing Group, Clarion Futures (the charitable foundation of Clarion Housing Group) and The Guinness Partnership – has proved that through partnership working and innovative ideas, food poverty can be mitigated.
Launched in September 2019, the St Giles Food Pantry enables residents of the Ixworth Estate and nearby homes managed by Clarion Housing Group and The Guinness Partnership in South Kensington to access high quality, ‘pre-shelf’ produce in return for modest £3.50-per- week subscription fee.
Since its opening, the Pantry has grown in both membership and influence, with other similar projects having launched across the country. The Pantry now supports 101 individuals in 51 homes in the area. Getting into the festive spirit, the Pantry is also planning to stock additional food over the Christmas period.
It is run by charity St Giles (see editors’ notes) who help people facing adversity and social exclusion. Alongside food, advice around any underlying issues such as money and welfare are also on offer to members.
A local resident who has been using the Pantry said: “Having the Pantry on the Ixworth Estate is a big help, especially over the Christmas period when there is a real pressure to buy food and presents – it all adds up. Since the Pantry has opened, my family have been able to access food we wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford.”
With food being supplied through charity FareShare, the innovative project also helps to tackle food waste, stocking items that would traditionally be thrown out by suppliers due to mislabeling and minor packaging defects. Residents can also access additional support, such as help managing finances or meal planning.
Southern Housing Group’s Head of Community Investment (North) John Gleeson said “We are delighted to see how the St Giles Food Pantry has grown since its launch to help some of our most vulnerable residents
“We’re proud of our social purpose and understand the value of investing in the people who live in our homes to help create a balanced, integrated community which is able to prosper.”