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Recognition for tackling food poverty

13 July 2020

Dusty Forge centre in Cardiff
The Dusty Forge centre in Ely, Cardiff

A Wales ‘food pantry’ project is bringing fresh produce to low income families thanks to a partnership that exploited Cardiff University expertise.

Cardiff Business School and Food Cardiff teamed up to develop a way of allowing people in food poverty to access healthy and affordable fresh food.

More than 1 in 5 people live in poverty in Wales. In Cardiff alone, 13,248 three-day emergency food supplies were provided to local people in crisis by Cardiff Foodbank during April 2018 and March 2019, with 5041 (38%) going to children.

Food Cardiff is the city’s local food partnership, one of the founding members of the UK Sustainable Food Places network. The organisation joined forces with Cardiff Business School, which supplied commercial supply-chain knowhow to develop a sustainable economic food model founded on social enterprise.

The partnership trialled and launched the project – Your Local Pantry Community Shop - at the Dusty Forge Centre in Ely, Cardiff.

People join as members, paying £5 a week, for which they can choose at least ten items of food each week, along with additional opportunities for volunteering and skills training. More than 3,000 homes in Ely and Caerau have a household income below 60% of median UK income.

The pantry supports the needs of multiple generations. For example, older members have reported benefits such as being able to access nutritious ‘stew packs’ which make home cooking achievable for people with lower mobility.

Pearl Costello, from Food Cardiff, said: “This is a long-term, sustainable way of tackling food poverty in Cardiff’s most deprived suburb. As a membership club, Your Local Pantry eliminates the social stigma of give-away food and provides a financially sustainable way of bringing fresh produce to local communities. In the first six months of running the Dusty Forge Pantry, members have collectively saved an estimated £25,000 on their food bill – and we expect this to rise to around £75,000 annually as membership increases.”

Community support coordinator Sam Froud-Powell, who project manages the pantry, said: “I thought it would be perfect for Ely because there are lots of families who are in food poverty and are struggling to afford healthy food and have decreasing incomes but what I like about the project is it’s not about having a charity relationship with people but about engaging with the community about food and tackling real issues about food.”

Dr Yingli Wang, Cardiff University Business School, said: “The pantry now has over 200 members with many on the waiting list and has produced tangible outputs including saving costs of £700 per year per member, which can be replicated and scaled across Wales.  Owing to increased supply chain efficiencies, the pantry also stops 12,000kg of food waste from going to landfill each year and a reduction in CO2 emissions of 7.5tonnes per year.”

The Your Local Pantry Community Shop at the Dusty Forge is supported by Church Action on Poverty, the Food Cardiff NetworkFood Power and the National Lottery Community Fund (Awards for All).

Dr Wang and Cardiff Business School continue to work with Food Cardiff with the aim of establishing at least ten pantries across Wales by 2023.

The project brings academic benefits to Cardiff Business School. Lessons learned from the scaleup process will make a valuable contribution to the disciplines of management, operation and supply chain management, and entrepreneurial studies.

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