The Covid pandemic highlighted difficulties in Wigton and its surrounding area. There was a need to fight hunger, bring the community together, and encourage better care for the environment by preventing waste food going into landfill. Paul, Jen and Jacinta, members of St Cuthbert's Church had a plan!
After being introduced to Julie, the regional co-ordinator for FareShare, they decided that their church hall was the ideal space to become distribute food, and they set up a non profit making facility.
Paul gathered a group of volunteers from various backgrounds - which has been the major success of the venture. The ten volunteers include teachers, bankers, NHS staff, socal care, hospitality and catering workers, who had the time and energy to give to the community. They share the workload and use their individual skills to promote the facility.
Access for all
It was important that the facility was for all, and was not a Food Bank, where referrals or vouchers are required. They simply ask for a donation to help buy provisions for the following week. Each week, they receive a delivery from FareShare, and they buy in fresh fruit and veg from The Fruit and Veg Box Company, supplemented with locally grown potatoes and free-range eggs so they can support local businesses.
John, one of the volunteers, has become a local celebrity chef, preparing a recipe of the week using whatever is in the Pantry that week. There are plans for when restrictions are lifted, for John to give cooking demonstrations, alongside taster sessions to encourage people to see how easy it is to cook from scratch on a budget.
Each week, there are familiar faces - 'Pantry Pals', who enjoy the chat, the company, the recipes, and love to see how they can get involved. Word is getting around that everyone can access the facility and there is a Facebook page with information, recipes and chat. As volunteers they can see how much peope appreciate what they offer, the friendliness, the laughter, the company, and meeting each other. They offer support, encouragement and by being inclusive they see a diverse group of people. All great for the community which gives them hope that they are making a difference to others.
The Big Lunch
The Big Lunch fitted with their ideas of building community spirit, offering food, and having fun. They have chosen to run two events to accommodate as many people as possible within the current restrictions. They're really looking forward to bringing everyone together and this Volunteers Week, The Big Lunch would like to thank all the volunteers at Wigton Food Pantry for their amazing community efforts over the past year.