Author, chartered psychologist and Bake Off star Kimberley Wilson met people using charity St Giles Trust’s west London Pantry on Wednesday 1 November.
Kimberley, who has a Masters in nutrition and authored books on the links between diet and mental health, shared recipes for low-cost, healthy dishes such as kimchi and chickpea braise with the Pantry’s clients who are all using the service to help them access affordable, nutritious food. These included a lady shopping for her 94-year-old mother and another with health issues meaning she requires a special diet to help manage her symptoms.
She also met west London Pantry Co-ordinator Nicola Green and Pantry Team Leader Beyrom Irani.
Kimberley Wilson said:
“We know that when household budgets are put under pressure, as they are now, the first items that people restrict are fresh fruits and vegetables. These foods, though highly nutritious, can be two to three times more expensive calorie-for-calorie compared to less nutritious foods. This means that those in poverty or on very tight budgets are literally priced out of the kind of diet known to support physical and mental health, worsening already difficult circumstances.”
“The Pantry’s philosophy of allowing customers to have unlimited fruits and vegetables in a setting in which they can shop with dignity and access wider support is a thoughtful, compassionate and inspiring model that is clearly making a positive difference to people’s health and wellbeing.”
St Giles Trust’s Pantry network addresses poverty by providing people struggling to make ends meet with access to food in return for a small weekly subscription of £3.50. People using the Pantry choose their food as they would in any other supermarket shop, maintaining their dignity and providing choice which is especially crucial for people with dietary and/or cultural requirements.
Whilst at the Pantry, people meet staff like Nicola at the west London Pantry, who supports them with friendly advice and guidance to help address underlying issues which could be trapping them in poverty. The aim is to help people move towards independence.
During her visit, Kimberley saw the produce on offer which included an array of fresh vegetables, fruits, salads, staples such as bread and legumes, meat, vegan and gluten-free options, and healthier treats such as dark chocolate snack bars and popcorn.
The west London Pantry is in the heart of a social housing estate in South Kensington. Despite being in one of the richest boroughs in the country, all the people using it were struggling to feed themselves and their families before they were referred to it. This is exacerbated by the lack of affordable food shops nearby with some elderly residents reliant on travelling across the river to Wandsworth to do their shopping.