Burgess Hill Pantry officially opens: choose a selection of quality food for only £4 per week

The new Burgess Hill Pantry was officially opened this morning (Monday, September 27).

Monday, 27th September 2021, 6:30 pm
Updated Wednesday, 29th September 2021, 11:00 am

The community shop, which provides its members with inexpensive high quality food, can be found at 25-29 The Martlets.

The ribbon was cut by town mayor Anne Eves and about 40 people turned up to the event, said Joseph Foster, deputy leader of Burgess Hill Town Council.

“We were delighted so many of the people who supported us along the way were able to join us,” he said, adding that some sponsors had not been able to visit previously.

Deputy leader of Burgess Hill Town Council Joseph Foster with town mayor Anne Eves and volunteers at the official launch of Burgess Hill Pantry. Photo: Steve Robards, SR2109271.

Mr Foster, who chairs the project’s board of trustees, said Burgess Hill Pantry is supported by Burgess Hill Town Council, the charitable arm of Clarion Futures, Burgess Hill Lions, Sussex Community Foundation and many other organisations.

“It was great to be able to show them what we’d built and the experience the customers have,” he said.

Burgess Hill Pantry is not a food bank, Mr Foster said, but bridges the gap between a food bank and a full retail offering.

Burgess Hill town mayor Anne Eves cuts the ribbon at the official launch of Burgess Hill Pantry. Picture: Steve Robards, SR2109271.

For £4 per week, members can choose a selection of food with a value of roughly £15-£20.

Available items include fresh fruits and vegetables, store cupboard favourites and bread and dairy products, and members only pay if they use the pantry that week.

Describing the opening event as a ‘soft launch’ featuring a talk and some cake, Mr Foster said Burgess Hill Pantry had already been used by some members since June.

But, he added, Covid restrictions had forced the team of volunteers to push their official opening back.

“We wanted to get open as soon as possible to learn and grow and make any adjustments we needed to make,” he said.

Since it began the pantry’s membership has grown to more than 130 people, many with families, meaning that around 300 Mid Sussex residents are now being supported.

“That continues to grow, sadly,” said Mr Foster, adding that the pantry receives applications every week and that it also supports people in Haywards Heath, Cuckfield, Lindfield, Hurstpierpoint and Hassocks.

He said Burgess Hill Pantry has a team of 15 hardworking volunteers under manager Julie Smyth who is responsible for day-to-day operations.

This is a ‘perpetual project’ said Mr Foster, adding that there are many upcoming problems that will make it harder for residents to afford quality food without assistance.

These include increased costs for food, fuel and energy, as well as the end of furlough, the ongoing impact of the Covid pandemic, and the cut to Universal Credit.

He said food for the pantry is donated by Co-op, FareShare, Plaw Hatch community farm and Tesco.

Burgess Hill Pantry is looking for more people to volunteer or make a donation. Email [email protected] to get involved.