Local Pantry Anniversary at Victoria Community Centre

Councillors Mick Lerry & Liz Marsh help stock up the new Victoria Pantry on opening day

VPLP is part of the Somerset Local Pantry Network (SLPN), who buy and collect surplus food and make it available to members for a low weekly fee. Each local pantry helps reduce food waste and makes food affordable for local families which saves them money. A small celebration took place to mark the birthday which welcomed guests including, Cllr Theo Butt Philip, Lead Member responsible for Partnerships and Localities at Somerset Council, the Mayor of Bridgwater, Cllr Mick Lerry and Mayoress of Bridgwater, Cllr Liz Marsh, along with the pantry’s staff and volunteers who all enjoyed speeches, a cake cutting and raffle.

Bridgwater’s Mayoress and Victoria Ward Town Councillor Liz Marsh said “The Pantry’s are very close to my heart. I have volunteered at all 3 Bridgwater Pantry’s before I even thought of being a Councillor, in fact it was volunteering that made me realise I wanted to be a Councillor. The difference they make to their local communities is amazing with the added bonus of saving good food from landfill. They are an absolute win-win. However, without a doubt it’s the volunteers that turn up each and every week, collecting food, sorting the food, talking to and supporting the members and each other that is what makes them so successful and we are so very lucky in Bridgwater to have such amazing volunteers. All 3 Pantry’s are doing fantastically and it was wonderful to see all 3 in action again. I couldn’t be happier that they have been chosen by the Mayor this year as his chosen cause to support.”

Cllr Liz Maersh at the Victoria Park fete

The team have a lot to be proud of; within the first six months, the pantry was fully subscribed with 30 members, and by working with FareShare South West, they contribute to saving 1800 tonnes of food from going to waste each year.

Fare Share

VPLP consists of a team of 10 volunteers who were recently recognised in FareShare South West’s Social Impact Awards 2023, winning the Social and Community Award as members of the SLPN.

As a generous birthday present, the pantry received a donation of £700 from the Mayor and Mayoress of Bridgwater. The money will help ensure the pantry can continue to deliver affordable food to the local community while preventing food waste.

Laura Fowler, Manager at Victoria Park Community Centre said: “The Pantry has become a significant part of the community. Feedback shows that members value the volunteers and the pantry. It enables people to join the food waste fight but has also been a real support to people throughout the cost-of-living crisis, leading to the volunteers and members building wonderful relationships. My ambition is to grow the pantry in 2024.”

SLPN is a partnership between Somerset Council, local community groups and food charity, FareShare South West.

Food charity, Action Against Hunger, made a film about the Somerset pantries, highlighting the positive impact they make in communities. Watch it here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJBij7bepKs.


Leave a Reply