Food pantry gives lifeline to poverty-stricken community
published on 28 Jun 2022
Food lifeline for Oldham community hit by cost-of-living crisis.
A provision initially set up to reduce food waste is now feeding families throughout Oldham as the cost-of-living crisis intensifies.
Sally-Ann’s Pantry, which is run by The Salvation Army at its corps (church) in Oldham Roundthorn, located on Roundthorn Road, was a facility originally set up to prevent food waste, but it has recently become a lifeline to stop people falling into food crisis as supermarket prices continue to soar.
Working in partnership with local supermarkets, The Salvation Army receives products that can no longer be sold due to being past a sell by date, but not a use by date, which includes fresh fruit and vegetables and bakery goods.
Occasionally donated items have damaged packaging, but are still in a useable condition, and their donation ensures food waste is dramatically reduced in the local area.
The pantry, affectionately named Sally-Ann’s, has been set up as an affordable step before a supermarket to provide fresh food, operating weekly on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm. Users of the service can do so on a donation basis, recommended at just one pound, and the pantry provides a level of dignity, choice and independence for those at risk of food poverty.
Captain Jonathan Pitts, church leader of The Salvation Army in Oldham Roundthorn spearheaded the scheme when it first opened in early 2020. He said: “Originally we set up the pantry to stop food waste in local supermarkets but once the pandemic hit and as the cost of living continues to rise, we are seeing a dramatic increase in those needing to access it.
“People are becoming increasingly desperate and hardworking individuals on low incomes just cannot keep up with the rising costs. Sally-Ann’s Pantry is a way to get substantial and nutritional food onto tables for a fraction of the high street cost.”
The suggested donation of one pound goes back into the food provision and also into the church’s foodbank which works on a referral basis for the most vulnerable members of the local community.
James*, 34, from Oldham, and his partner first came across Sally-Ann’s Pantry when they both lost their stable jobs and as a result found themselves homeless within the same month. Claiming Universal Credit, their payments didn’t stretch far enough to cover all their bills and they found themselves in the position of needing support. James* said: “It was a tough time for us. Out of nowhere we had to adapt the way we were living; in the past we could have whatever we wanted, but then suddenly the rug was pulled from underneath us, and it was a struggle.
“Sally-Ann’s Pantry was great as the food always varied, it was something different each time and well-known brands but for a fraction of the price. It allowed us to pick what we wanted; we had our own choice and would still have money left out of our budget to go to the supermarket for the extras we needed like nappies. It bridged the gap and helped us make our money go further.
“I never imagined that I would need to use a foodbank service, it can just come up on you, even when you’re working, when you least expect it. You can have everything, a comfortable life and then suddenly your whole world can turn upside down.”
Alongside Sally-Ann’s Pantry and the foodbank, the Oldham Roundthorn church also runs a weekly drop-in provision; the Lighthouse Project from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm on Fridays which includes a hot meal along with help and advice, and also a food parcel.
Captain Pitts added: “The cost-of-living crisis is quickly turning into an emergency and more people than ever are now at risk of falling into a very real food crisis, falling into intense food poverty, and we hope our pantry can stop this from happening.
“People have a bit more control around what they choose, what suits them and their family and gives a level of dignity in using this kind of a service, although there should never be any shame in doing so.
“With the rising cost of living and energy there are only so many cuts you can make and, once you reach your limit, anyone and everyone could be in need, and that is what is actually quite scary.”
If you work for a supermarket or would like to donate fresh produce for the pantry, please contact the Oldham Roundthorn church on 0161 624 6550.
The Salvation Army Oldham Roundthorn also has a Just Giving page which can be found at www.justgiving.com/oldhamroundthorn and welcomes all donations but people are encouraged to give only what they can afford.