Close up image of a box of potatoes with a sign in them saying 'Please help yourself to as much as you and your family would like'

Community larders come to West Berkshire from 27 May

Two community larders will launch over the next few months in West Berkshire offering local residents the chance to save both pounds and the planet.

For just £10 a year, plus a weekly membership fee, larder members can access supermarket surplus stock including fresh fruit, vegetables, bread, and other staples which would otherwise go to waste. This is an ideal solution for those on a tight budget - and those who want to have a more sustainable lifestyle.  

The Newbury Larder will be based at the Greenham Community Centre, launching on 27th May 2021 and will be run by Claire Austin, from Community Youth Project, working alongside Sue Edgar from West Berkshire Council's Career and Participation team. It will open for three hours every Thursday afternoon. 

The Thatcham Larder will be based at the Frank Hutchins Hall, with Vicky Roseblade from Public Protection Partnership WB at the helm, working alongside Sue Edgar, from West Berkshire Council's Career and Participation team. The Thatcham larder will open on a Wednesday afternoon.

Rachel Peters, Community Development Officer for Sovereign brought all of the partners together after noticing a spike in food bank use across West Berkshire during the pandemic.

She said: “Community larders are a fantastic way for people to get the food they need at a very reasonable price – membership for a single person is just £3.50 a week, and for a family it’s £7. The larders are open one afternoon a week, and members can come in and choose items like tins, packets and supermarket surplus products, as well as a selection of fresh fruit and vegetables. The larder teams will alert people to what’s available on social media the day before they’re open so people can make time to pop along and pick up some real treats.”

Dominic Boeck, West Berkshire’s Executive Member for Children, Young People and Education said: “The Community Larder is a real win/win. Not only does it offer affordable food and prevent waste, it will offer opportunities for young people not in education, employment or training to work in the larders and benefit from the life skills training they can get from that experience.”

The larder model was developed by SOFEA, a charitable organisation from Oxfordshire, which has successfully set up and run community larders for the last three years, alongside other social purpose projects designed to support young people into employment.

Claire Hughes, General Manager - The Community Larder for SOFEA, said: “Community larders are non-means-tested. Anyone who wants to prevent food waste or to save money can join. For an individual this could mean savings of up to £400 per year on their weekly shop, but community larders are about more than food.

“Volunteers at the larders can support members with debt issues and healthy eating ideas, as well as offering a welcoming place to simply come and get to know others in your neighbourhood. We’re always looking for volunteers and we welcome students and other young people looking to build confidence for future employability. Community larders have wellbeing at the heart of the project!”

Those who wish to become members of the larder find out more information by visiting the Facebook group. And those who wish to find out more about starting a larder in their local area should contact Rachel Peters on 0300 500 926 or rachel.peters@sovereign.org.uk.