Porlock Community Library and West Somerset Food Cupboard Tackle Rural Food Poverty

Porlock Community Library and West Somerset Food Bank have set up a joint initiative to tackle rural food poverty. Living in a rural area such as Porlock brings specific challenges for people on low incomes, and this has been exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis. Many rural jobs pay only minimum wage, a higher-than- average proportion of the population is living solely on a state pension and public transport is limited therefore it is more difficult to access affordable, healthy food.

Porlock Community Library will now keep emergency food parcels available for people who are in crisis. There will be 3 types of food parcel available: a family bag, a single person pack for someone with cooking facilities and a single person pack for someone without cooking facilities. Each food parcel contains a carefully thought-out range of non-perishable food items.

West Somerset Food Cupboard works alongside partner agencies to ensure food parcel recipients are offered a package of practical help. This may include support to apply for benefits, manage income and deal with debt or addictions. One of these partners, The West Somerset Advice Bureau, provides a dedicated drop-in session at the library between 11am and 2pm every fortnight. The next sessions take place on June 13th, June 27th, July 11th and July 25th.

Chair of West Somerset Food Cupboard, Katrina Midgley said, “All the food we distribute is donated. The community in Porlock is extremely supportive with food donations and their time through volunteering for us. We are delighted to have this opportunity to collaborate with Porlock Library to ensure that people in food crisis can easily access support locally.”.

Porlock Community Library Officer and Volunteer Coordinator, Mary Perkins commented “By working alongside West Somerset Food Cupboard and West Somerset Advice Bureau we are bringing partners together from across the support system. Our aim is to develop sustainable community led support to ensure nobody in Porlock and the surrounding area experiences food poverty.”.

The West Somerset Food Cupboard has been providing emergency food from the Parish Church of St. Michael the Archangel, Alcombe since 2007. The food is kindly donated by local people, checked, and packed by volunteers, and distributed by a local agency supporting someone through a particular challenge.

In addition, in May 2022, the Local Pantry was established. The Local Pantry is a membership scheme formed through a partnership agreement with supermarket surplus charity Fareshare South West and Somerset West and Taunton Council’s Local Pantries initiative. The team of volunteers sort deliveries and stock the pantry, and welcome members every Tuesday, assisting with their weekly shop – all for £4.00 per member.

Photo: Mary Perkins, 2nd from left, with volunteers

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