The Pantry at Ashton
Ashton Community has just embarked on a new community project. The initiative is called ‘The Pantry’, a Community Food Store project based in the Ashton Centre.

Whole Service Approach
A Community Food Store differs from Food Banks in that it doesn’t just provide food but works to provide a ‘whole service’ approach. This means the pantry operates on a membership basis where participants will be provided with support from trained volunteer mentors. This is aimed at helping members develop skills including things like budgeting, debt management, cooking, nutrition and help with advice.
Once you join the Pantry, you pay a weekly membership fee of £5. This five pounds enables you to avail of a weekly shop of approximately £40 for a period of 12 weeks. Both food and hygiene products are available through the Pantry. Members purchase items based on their own preference. Items are colour coded according to their value.

Once members have completed an initial 12 week programme they can extend their membership to become a support volunteer. Support volunteers can still be members of The Pantry but their membership will increase to £10 a week for approximately £40 of groceries.

Community Empowerment
Christine McKeown of Ashton Community Trust said, “In North Belfast severe socio-economic deprivation is a well-documented fact of life. For example child poverty here is twice the regional average with rates in excess of 43%. Matters are now made even worse by the current economic conditions with big increases in the basic costs of living. This affects everyone but especially families that are already getting it tough. One aspect of this project is obviously about helping people to alleviate food insecurity and other household needs. But we also see it as a means of empowering the community through encouraging and supporting the more active participation of people in community development processes. This could be anything from local decision making to the design and delivery of local services”. The Panrty was funded by Belfast Charitable Society for the set up of the project.

For more information on the referral process for The Pantry contact: Christine McKeown at Ashton on 02890742255