PANTRY food bank (Pontardawe, Alltwen, ‘N’ Trebanos, Rhos/Rhydyfro, and Ynysmeudwy) started operating in 2014. We are an independent Foodbank (not part of the Trussell Trust foodbank network).
Despite being housed in the Tabernacle Chapel in Pontardawe (who have been extremely supportive to us), PANTRY is not associated with any religious or political organisation. People sometimes think that we are part of the government, council or Jobcentre: we are not. We are registered as a charity in the UK: #1167724 and run completely by volunteers. We are only able to exist through the generous support from local individuals, groups and organisations.
The world’s first food bank was established in the US in 1967, and since then many thousands have been set up all over the world. In the UK, Foodbanks were originally set up to provide emergency food supplies to people facing a crisis, and not as an ongoing means of support. However, we have now come to realise that in our current climate of austerity with people having long waits for Universal Credit and PIP and others trapped in the Bedroom Tax and/or with long term debt, people may need our support for longer than the 3 visits in 6 months that we originally envisaged.
The food that we give out is donated to us and we need to account for it and share it out fairly to those who need it. In the short term we will try to address our clients’ presenting needs, but in the longer term we also want people coming to us to work with support organisations to improve their situation so that they won’t need to keep coming to us. We have PANTRY Foodbank vouchers that partner organisations (social services, Jobcenteplus, Welfare Rights, CAB, health care workers etc) can give to their clients so they can come to us, but people don’t need a voucher to get help from PANTRY (particularly on a first visit). We will try and signpost our PANTRY clients to support organisations so that they can get help with their ongoing issues.
PANTRY’s mission statement is “The Prevention Or Relief Of Poverty" and the individuals who visit us are often caught up in bigger issues that are outside of their control. Although we have been successful in addressing the food needs of people needing to visit us, as an organisation we must challenge the underlying reasons for them having to come to us. In the 21st Century in one of the richest countries in the world, foodbanks should not be needed – but the demand doesn’t seem to be going away.
As of September 19th PANTRY routine deliveries will cease. Those in need of emergency help must provide a contact phone number where we can call to assess your needs and if necessary arrange a time for the collection of a food parcel at the Tabernacle. Masks must be worn and social distancing must be observed during any visit to protect visitors and our volunteers.