Volunteers pack boxes with food at the community pantry

Poverty Hurts: LCBC Community Pantry.

“On behalf of our organisation, I would like to thank each and every donor for their contribution that helps projects, such as ours, continue to support those in the community.” 

Joanne Iceton, founder of Little Chefs, Big Chefs says a £1,000 award from the Poverty Hurts Appeal will help keep the project’s community pantry and winter coat service up and running.  

The charity originally launched to help families discover the joys of healthy eating and cooking but launched a community pantry just before the pandemic to make good food affordable, reduce food waste and so help the environment.

To date, the project has saved 66,690 kg of food from landfill. Situated within St Helen’s Parish Hall, Middlewood Green, the project is open Mondays and Fridays and has proved so successful it will shortly move to their own premises.  

Joanne explained: “A lot of families are working, and still can’t make ends meet. This is the hidden poverty that exists as they’re not eligible for food banks or they’re proud.” 

“We see first-hand, the impact of the universal credit lift, job losses, reduction in hours and higher cost of living. We listen as our beneficiaries tell us stories of switching to packed lunches for their children as they simply can’t afford the school dinners and aren’t entitled to these for free; the cancellation of after-school clubs as these are an added expense; the need to fill form after form to get help (which is so difficult for many); being demoralised by the system and made to feel like ‘scroungers’ and how many are afraid to turn their heating on as they don’t know what to expect with the next bill.  

“Most of these stories are from working families and wanting to, in their own words, ‘pay their own way in life.’” 

A key part of the project is that it is open to everyone. 

Joanne said: “We have a GP, a vicar and an accountant who use the project because they wish to help reduce the ecological impact of food waste, and when everyone is queuing up, they get talking and learn more about each other and it breaks down barriers which is really important. 

“We’re a food project, but we’re much more than that. We know everyone’s name; we know a little bit about their lives and we understand what they’re facing.”  

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