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Innovative food scheme progresses

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An innovative scheme to tackle social issues through healthy food is going from strength to strength in Whitehaven.

The Food Pantry Project is now to run an event each month at St Peter's Community Hall in Woodhouse. The first event will be on October 18.

There are also plans to develop a Food Pantry in a local school.

The work is part of a £20,000 pilot scheme  funded by Copeland and Allerdale Councils. It looks  to improve health and wellbeing using food which would otherwise be wasted. The project is also being supported by Cumbria County Council.

Copeland's Portfolio Holder for Customers and Communities, Coun Mark Holiday, said: "The first event was a great success, attended by residents and supporting partners. Last week a follow-up event was held to discuss ideas from the residents of Sandwith ward, one of the county's most deprived.

"There was a real energy and sense of purpose from everyone, with a genuine desire to make progress. People raised concerns about bullying, including cyber bullying, isolation and a lack of community spirit. There were also concerns about poverty, including food poverty.

"At the event on October 18 we'll look to get a better understanding of the issues and help those at immediate risk of going without food.

Mayor Mike Starkie, who attended and spoke at the event, said: "I am delighted the council has been able to put our full support and financial muscle behind this innovative project. It has the potential to really tackle crucial issues around health, social inclusion and poverty - these are priorities for us. It's great to see the scheme progressing and it was inspiring to speak to those involved. I look forward to seeing  how the project moves forward."

County Councillor, Emma Williamson, said: “The collaboration with the community has taught us that working in partnership is vital if we are to address the issues causing people to be in poverty and feel isolated. The food pantries are a starting point to address the alarming levels of poverty, but also an invitation to use St Peter's as a hub to support the community to work with us to create a place of change that takes a bottom-up approach."

This project supports Copeland Council's work on social isolation, financial inclusion and health inequalities.