Pioneer pantry launched for impoverished residents

Date published: 20 December 2018

A member-owned co-operative pantry shop was launched at the Rochdale Pioneers Museum on Thursday (20 December).

The Pioneer Pantry is a pop-in shop open on Friday afternoons for local residents living in poverty, stocking a range of store cupboard essentials along with fresh products and toiletries.

Lots of agencies from across Rochdale attended the launch, including representatives from Rochdale Borough Council and Link4Life, the BLC, Rochdale Mind, and Councillor Janet Emsley.

Unlike a regular shop, the Pantry is member-owned and run solely by volunteers. Membership is just £1, which includes a card and canvas shopping bag, and £2.50 thereafter when users visit the Pantry.

Each item is assigned a colour grading correlating to the maximum quantity of a good allowed per person.

A person can have up to four yellow items, which are fresh products provided by Foodshare, three green products, which include tinned vegetables, beans and fish, two red, such as dried pasta and rice, and one blue, such as tea or coffee, and toiletries.

The Pantry will also stock free sanitary packs, provided by The Crimson Wave.

Over the last 18 months, the Rochdale Pioneers Museum has worked closely with Rochdale agencies and communities to develop a sustainable model for people to access food affordably.

Being member-owned means that users are at the core of decision making for how any profits are spent, decided once a quarter.

From April, the group will be investing the first profits into a small plot of land at the St Mary in the Baum church to grow their own vegetables and hope to provide cookery demonstrations.

In the past, members have used profits to gain food handling qualifications and to make meals for family and friends in need, hosted by the museum.

The Pantry is open Fridays between 12 noon and 3pm (excluding 28 December 2018).

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