During the Parliamentary recess I was invited to visit the Community Pantry at Romsey School which has been doing a brilliant job supporting local families during these incredibly difficult times. RCS Ltd based at Romsey School has delivered over 56,000 meals to families in the area since lockdown began, and established the Pantry which provides a step on from the Foodbank. They support families with access not just to groceries, in partnership with Fare Share, but also access to on-line or face to face learning to improve their cooking skills.
Jan Lefley and her team do a brilliant job, encouraging families to cook healthy and nutritious meals together, with weekly meal deals and recipes designed to inspire children and parents alike. During half term they established a connect and create in both Andover and Romsey for families on free school meals, over three days, providing a cooked two course meal and a Pantry food bag complete with recipes. TVBC has provided £30,000 of funding to be used to support this work, in addition to providing funding to the Foodbanks in Romsey and Andover.
I have consistently maintained that we need to find sustainable solutions to food poverty. Whilst there has been a great deal of discussion over vouchers, which would not in any case have arrived in time for Half Term, fantastic local organisations have got on with providing practical solutions and delivering direct assistance to people in need in our area. The Pantry is a great example of that and are already planning to deliver a Christmas Cracker, with 7 days of ingredients and recipes for the Christmas period.