Food pantry in Glengarry helping connect community

A food pantry has been set up in Glengarry to help vulnerable people and families, but it has had an unexpected spin off –helping reconnect a community. 

The pantry, a repurposed filing cabinet, is based outside the Habitat for Humanity store in Glengarry Crescent. 

The aim is that it will be filled with fresh produce that can be taken by people that need it. It is hoped people in the community will take what they need, but give what they can. 

Healthy Families Invercargill systems innovator Lauren Richardson said the idea for the pantry came from a community workshop led by Healthy Families Invercargill to brainstorm and prototype ideas to help food security in Invercargill. 

Connecting organisations to drive locally led solutions is one of the main focuses of the Healthy Families Invercargill kaupapa, with work being done in the kai space, such as the food pantry, a prime example of this. 

Feedback from organisations working in the community, as well as residents themselves, showed it could be difficult for families to access fresh fruit and vegetables, and often less healthy, processed options were chosen because they were more affordable and easier to carry if they didn’t have access to a car, Richardson said. 

“Through our workshops, it was clear that for many people, the access and ability to source fresh produce just wasn’t there, so we wanted to work together to help remove this barrier. The food pantry was one of the ideas we prototyped, and the community involvement has been outstanding. 

“While our main focus was on helping people access fresh produce, the community is more than welcome to leave other items such as bread, or non-perishable items such as canned foods.” 

Glengarry Kindergarten were approached to decorate the pantry, an opportunity they jumped at. 

Head teacher Carly Ashford said the kindergarten was thrilled to be included. 

“We want to be a more active part of the community, in a meaningful way...we are part of the community, we whakapapa into this community...the whanaungatanga, shared experiences, bring us together.” 

Since being involved with the food pantry initiative, the kindergarten will be hosting a public meeting for the Glengarry community on September 24 to restart the recessed Glengarry Community Action Group. 

Salvation Army Invercargill Community Ministries Coordinator Brenda King said food security was a community-wide issue and the more help that was available, the better. 

“This (the food pantry) might cut us out of the loop a wee bit. That would be a good thing. If folk have enough...if they have got some access to fruit and vegetables then maybe they have enough in their cupboard to supplement that. I think it’s a win all round.” 

Produce the Salvation Army were donating to the Food Pantry came from several sources, including the Invercargill Prison vegetable garden. 

“They give the produce to us and it’s always a shame if we can’t use it all. So it’s really great to have another outlet.” 

Article added: Monday 24 August 2020


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