Preston's Purple Pantry shop helps tackle food crisis

A Preston community shop which helps hundreds of people struggling to afford food has marked its first anniversary.

Friday, 23rd July 2021, 12:30 pm

The Purple Pantry in Moor Nook was set up by landlord the Community Gateway Association to help households who find it difficult to afford groceries.

It now has 854 members and opens five days a week, and for its users, is proving a lifeline.

Julie Lee, Head of Income at CGA said: “It had become clear that people frequently struggled to afford their weekly shop or had to stick to buying a limited range or ‘value’ products. So, we stepped up and launched our own affordable food outlet. It’s stocked with top notch food including tins, fresh, chilled and frozen goods as well as sweet treats. Membership is open to all Community Gateway customers and local people.”

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Dave Yates, Chair of Community Gateway

As well as offering a wide choice of food, the Pantry acts as a focal point on the estate, bringing local people together.

Resident Jacqui meets her friend Yvonne there once a week. She said: “I can’t praise it enough. I can’t work, as I am disabled and it makes a big difference when you’re on a low income like me.”

Everything on the Pantry shelves is fresh surplus food from suppliers like Morrisons and in particular James Hall & Co (Spar UK) who supply most of the food.

In the last 12 months, over 7,200 people have visited the Pantry, and it has provided food to more than 11,500 adults and 7,000 children.

Jacqui Wilkinson shopping

Preston Mayor Javed Iqbal joined a first anniversary party for the Pantry. He said: "We need places like this; sadly it’s an essential service to many who are unemployed or on low incomes. What I’ve heard about here and what shines through is ‘respect’ – respect for all customers who come to browse and choose products from the shop."

The Pantry is open 1pm to 4pm Monday to Friday.

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Purple Pantry food market celebrates its first birthday with mayor Javed Iqbal Photos: NEIL CROSS