The Pantry: Empowering through nutrition

2.4 million children in the UK are currently living in food insecure households, with reliance on food provisions set to increase by 61% this year. Healthy food shouldn’t be a luxury, but foodbanks alone are not the solution. At St Giles, we have developed a food hub with a difference: The Pantry. The Pantry, kindly support by Credit Suisse UK, offers both an immediate safety net and a sustainable route out of poverty within 6 months.

We provide healthy, nutritious food to those struggling to feed themselves and their families – those held back by poverty, addiction, and mental health issues, who are being disproportionately affected by the pandemic. We couple this healthy food with expert wrap-around support from our trained Peer Advisors to help address the underlying issues leading to food poverty; advice and support with employment, finance, housing, personal wellbeing, mental health and social isolation among others. Many of our staff and volunteer Peer Advisors have overcome similar problems and speak the same language – they can say “I’ve been there” and it is this authenticity that empowers clients to build a better future for themselves. By coupling healthy food with expert advice, we can support individuals and families to overcome the barriers they face and break the cycle of poverty.

All the food distributed by the Pantry is food that would otherwise be going to landfill. We work with the Felix project and FareShare to source surplus food which usually has not even reached the supermarkets yet and is still years away from reaching its sell by date. With the UK’s food industry generating almost 2 million tonnes of good, surplus food each year, The Pantry offers a sustainable model for both decreasing food dependency in lower income families and responding to overproduction.

Over the last 12 months, St Giles’ Pantry service has expanded rapidly, starting as a crisis delivery service during the initial Covid-19 lockdown, and developing into five permanent Pantry sites supporting hundreds of families across the UK every week. The support of Credit Suisse UK has been crucial in allowing St Giles to expand operations across the UK and support even more families who are facing poverty.

Dawn, is just one of the clients who has benefitted from accessing the Pantry:

“St Giles’ Pantry has been a blessing. I am able to cook and eat a balanced meal every day. The staff are on hand to help me with any social issues I may have and can, and will, signpost me to other agencies that can help me. They are kind and friendly, polite, and never put me down or look down on me. They encourage me to pick healthy things and help me.

The Pantry provides good food for people like me who are struggling. Confidentiality is their policy, and they have great discretion compared to a food bank where everyone knows your business and people know what you are going in there for. Without this service I would have had to skip meals. I am so grateful to you at St Giles for providing this service. I am truly grateful.”

Every day, thousands of people are skipping meals just so they can feed their children but thanks to the support of Credit Suisse UK, St Giles are here to support hundreds of families to move away from poverty for good.

St Giles has been generously supported by Credit Suisse UK since 2016, benefitting from a grant relationship with the Credit Suisse EMEA Foundation and successfully securing the Credit Suisse UK Charity of the Year partnership in 2019. St Giles are incredibly grateful for the continued commitment and support of our work from Credit Suisse UK and all their employees.

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