Young people helping the hungry in Stratford

Young people from a Stratford youth club have opened a brand-new pantry to help people in the area access affordable food.

Twelve people, aged between 9 and 16, from Stratford Youth Zone are behind the entire project, the aim is to help people in the local area who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis access affordable food.

The young team have led on the all the logistics including the deciding on the day and timings. They also did brand workshops to make sure the look and feel of the pantry is right and completed their Food Hygiene Course to ensure they comply with all the health and safety requirements to run the service. The process has had a huge benefit for the young people as one of the founders, Gia Ral, 16 explains: “The Stratford Youth Pantry has supported me in getting new skills and building my confidence. I enjoy being part of it and helping people in my community who need help.”

Another of the group, Amina, 14, explains why she got involved: “It’s because of the cost of living crisis and how food is more expensive these days, it's for people to come into this place and know that, if they don't have to struggle with how expensive food is, they don’t have to cut down and that there's places that they know they can get food. And also to like, welcome the community as well. Especially new people are coming around Stratford.”

The pantry welcomed around 10 families for its first session. Once more people learn about the pantry the young people hope up to 40 families could benefit from the community service

The food has been supplied by The Felix Project, the charity has also played a key role in helping the young people set the pantry up. Alice Handelman-Pedroza is the Schools Manager, she said: “It has been amazing to see the pantry up and running, with customers coming through the doors and telling the young people how grateful they are for the support. We will be supplying the pantry with around 250kg of fresh food each week and look forward to hearing how it grows in popularity.”

The young people are also set to visit the charity’s East London depot in the next few months to see how it operates.

Alongside support from The Felix Project, financial broker TP ICAP has also shown their support – they provided the funding without which it would not have been possible. Marsha Lacey is the Community Engagement Manager at TP ICAP and said: “We are delighted our support has enabled this unique youth led project to get off the ground. It’s fantastic to see these inspirational young people doing something to help others.”

The Pantry will run weekly. Customers will be asked for a suggested donation of £2.50 and will get a bag of food in return. For more information please email [email protected]