New partnership supporting Islanders

Published: 26 August 2022

Food charity FareShare UK are supporting the council’s connect4communities programme by delivering a weekly supply of fresh fruit and vegetables, canned and dried food as well as other essentials to the Island's community pantries.

The charity works across the food industry to get good quality, nutritious surplus food — that would otherwise go to waste — to nearly 9,500 charities and community groups across the UK.

The new partnership extends to ferry operator, Red Funnel, which has kindly agreed to transport the vital supplies across the Solent free of charge for the next 12 months.

Meanwhile, Southern Housing Group has underlined its commitment to supporting residents amid rising energy prices and inflation by making a generous £10,000 donation towards future transport costs.

Three community pantries are now operating on the Isle of Wight — East Cowes was the first to open in April with Ventnor following during the May half-term holiday. Ryde Community Pantry also opened last month.

The pantries, set up by local organisations with support from connect4communities, aim to give those in need a helping hand by providing food on a weekly basis at a lower price than can be found in supermarkets.

Claire Martin, regional manager (Southern Central) at FareShare, said: “We are thrilled to be able to deliver good quality surplus food to charities and community centres that we work with on the Isle of Wight, at a time when the increases in the cost of living are having a disproportionate impact on those already struggling to make ends meet.

"We are incredibly grateful to the support from Red Funnel for supplying their ferries, and to the generous donation from Southern Housing Group, to help vulnerable communities get access to the food they need.”

Mark Meredith, community partnerships and projects manager at Southern Housing Group, said: “Providing funding and working as a collective means we are able to strengthen the support for both the Island's, and Southern’s, residents.

“The current economic climate and the cost of living crisis is affecting so many people now, and times are incredibly hard.

“With more and more people requiring help in this way, partnership working is vital in helping to reduce poverty, and support our residents and in creating better, more sustainable communities."

Councillor Debbie Andre, Cabinet member for children's services, added: “We want to say a massive thank you to FareShare, Southern Housing Group and Red Funnel for their support for our community pantries. This is collaborative partnership working at its best.

“This money will help the pantries continue the great work they already do in our communities.

“Anyone who needs support with their weekly shop can become a community pantry member and sign up by completing a simple form.

"They can then start their first shop, paying £5 a week for a minimum of £15 worth of groceries. Members can also be signposted to other support services that may be able to offer additional support.

“It couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time, particularly for families over the summer holidays. I’m sure that this initiative will be a great help to our Island residents.”

More information on the community pantries, can be found here:

More information about FareShare can be found here: