First community pantry opens

Published: 6 May 2022

The food pantry runs every Tuesday from 1.30pm until 3.30pm, and every Wednesday and Thursday from 10.30am until 12.30pm at Community Spirited Cafe in Vectis Road, East Cowes.

The pantry aims to give those in need a helping hand by providing food at a lower price than can be found in supermarkets on a weekly basis.

Access to the pantry is by way of membership, and for a weekly contribution of £5, members receive food to a significantly higher value.

Since its launch last Tuesday, 44 residents have already signed up.

The Isle of Wight Council is coordinating the scheme through its successful connect4communities programme, with funding from the Department for Work and Pensions.

Jane Allchom, manager of the Community Spirited Cafe, said: "When the council approached me about the funding available I knew the pantry would be a much-needed benefit for our community.

"We worked tirelessly to get this launched as soon as we could. The timing was perfect and the uptake went into double figures on the first day.

"The pantry offers a support service and we are always close to the teapot! We will signpost people to other services if they need additional help.

"We are affectionately know as the heart in East Cowes; the pantry is another addition to the many care and supportive services we offer.

"With the funding we have managed to employ one of our volunteers, which is such a lovely feeling."

The East Cowes pantry was opened last week with Councillor Tracy Reardon, Mayor of East Cowes, cutting the ribbon.

Two other pantries at Oakfield Primary School, Ryde, and Baby Box in Ventnor are on track to open soon.

Councillor Debbie Andre, Cabinet member for children's services, said: “I was delighted to be at the launch of our first Island community pantry in East Cowes.

"This would not have been possible without the perseverance and dedication of my team who have worked tirelessly to bring this initiative to the Island and the enthusiasm of Community Spirited, where the East Cowes Community Pantry is based.

"In addition, over time, the community pantries will be able to provide additional support to members. This is the first of several community pantries planned for the Island and delivers on the council's commitment to reducing poverty, especially amongst families.”

If you are an organisation interested in opening a community pantry on the Island, please contact Laura Hales, connect4communities project manager, by email: or call: (01983) 821000.

Further details and an application form can be found on the connect4communities webpage.