Island communities to get travelling pantry to help cut food costs

Published: 6 December 2023

Steve Johnson and Laura Hales with the new mobile community pantry

A new travelling community pantry will be launched on the Island to help people who are struggling with the rising cost of food.

The Aspire Mobile Community Pantry will start visiting designated sites in Cowes, Lake and Freshwater on specific mornings in the next few weeks.

Residents using the travelling pantry will be asked to pay £5 on each visit, allowing them to take their pick of the non-perishable food on offer with a minimum value of at least £15.

The mobile pantry aims to give those struggling to afford food a helping hand by providing groceries and other essential items at a lower price than can be found in supermarkets.

People will also have access to vital support services such as Citizens Advice, Living Well and Early Help.

The pantry is being supported by the Isle of Wight Council through its connect4communities programme, with Household Support Funding from the Department for Work and Pensions.

The travelling pantry will be run by the award-winning community hub and registered charity, Aspire Ryde. It is the sixth community pantry to open on the Island since the first one opened in East Cowes last year.

Steve Johnson, director of community and partnership at Aspire, said: "At Aspire, we firmly believe that everyone should have access to quality, nutritious food, irrespective of their financial situation.

"Our mobile community pantry is designed to break down barriers, ensuring food security is a right, not a privilege."

Community pantries not only offer affordable weekly food shopping options but also serve as friendly and secure spaces, fostering a sense of community and inclusion. 

Anyone can go to any community pantry including the mobile one without the need to provide financial or employment details.

Laura Hales, the council's connect4communities project manager, said: "As well as providing affordable weekly food shopping for their members, pantries are a friendly and safe space, creating an environment that encourages a feeling of inclusion and belonging.

"I would urge anyone who is unsure if they can access support, to email or visit the connect4communities website."

Community pantries are just one way the council is helping to support residents with the cost of living.

Using its latest round of Household Support Funding, the authority is investing more than £2.2 million this financial year in a wide variety of support targeting households facing hardship.

For more information about the Aspire Mobile Community Pantry, please contact or call 01983 716020.

Further information about the Island's community pantry network, including the mobile pantry, can be found on the council's website.

Photo: Laura Hales, the council's connect4communities project manager, hands over the keys to the new mobile community pantry to Steve Johnson, director of community and partnership at Aspire Ryde.