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EitC’s Blue Base Pantry feeds a total of 38,576 people

With a staggering 38,576 people fed since opening in June 2022, just short of the capacity of Everton Football Club’s Goodison Park, EitC’s (Everton in the Community) Blue Base Pantry marks its 100th pantry session this week.

The weekly pantry, delivered in partnership with Fans Supporting Foodbanks, Your Local Pantry, FareShare, and Feeding Liverpool, was initially set up to combat food insecurity within Liverpool 4 following the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent cost-of-living crisis by providing members with access to high-quality discounted food, quickly establishing itself as the third biggest ‘Your Local Pantry’ in the UK.

EitC’s Blue Base Pantry feeds a total of 38,576 people
Tony McArdle

Situated in one of the country’s most deprived wards, the award-winning community initiative rapidly evolved into a holistic hub by offering key wraparound services to tackle financial hardship in all its forms and serve the needs of the charity’s local residents. The pantry teamed up with organizations such as Riverside Housing, Enterprise Credit Union, Job Centre Plus, and Smoke Free Liverpool to provide guidance on benefits, welfare, and housing support. In addition, the charity’s employability team hosts regular health screenings, a fortnightly jobs fair, and a recently launched Health Hub for inactive and long-term sick individuals.

This week, before the pantry opened, staff members, volunteers, pantry members, and Club Ambassador Ian Snodin gathered at EitC’s Blue Base to celebrate the pantry’s 100th session and reflect on its impactful delivery to date. Following that service, the member-centered scheme not only fed 38,576 individuals overall and reached 14,439 visits, but it also saved over 28 tonnes of food from landfills in total.

EitC’s Blue Base Pantry feeds a total of 38,576 people
Tony McArdle

Additionally, in only 100 pantry sessions, EitC has helped 500 local families, giving 1,199 unique kids access to high-quality, discounted food. As of right now, 434 people are members of the weekly pantry. The UK Parliament’s 2023 DEFRA Food Security Reports cited the initiative as an example of best practice, and it also received recognition at national and regional award ceremonies, such as the 2023 Football Business Awards and ‘Community Initiative of the Season’ at the 2023 Northwest Football Awards.

At this week’s 100th pantry session, the 20 volunteers of the Blue Base Pantry also reached 4,640 hours of service. Their unflinching dedication was recently acknowledged at the charity’s Blue Heart Awards, where they took home the ‘Team of the Year – Non-Sporting’ award.

Other noteworthy achievements for the pantry so far include the March 2024 opening of its monthly “Clothes Swap Shop” in collaboration with Zero Fashion UK CIC, which has since assisted over 100 pantry members in receiving new clothes at no cost. The pantry also received approximately £7,500 worth of L’Oreal products from The Hygiene Bank in December 2023, which it then redistributed to service users and EitC participants, thereby saving 250kg of goods from landfills.

Tony McArdle

Reflecting on the Blue Base Pantry’s 100th session, Ryan O’Hanlon, Blue Family Coordinator at EitC said:

“This is a bittersweet occasion for me and the rest of the delivery team. Whilst we’re incredibly proud of the amount of people we’ve fed and supported as well as the support networks we’ve built, the number of families and individuals who are struggling is staggering. Despite the members’ hardships, they’re always prepared to give back and are so thankful. We cannot thank our external partners enough for helping us to deliver this service; it’s important that we are here for the community of L4, supporting them as much as we can for as long as they need it.”

Dave Kelly, Chair at Fans Supporting Foodbanks added:

“Fans Supporting Foodbanks started its ‘Mobile Pantries’ initiative in 2020 and operate seven mobiles across the Liverpool City Region. Our partnership with Everton in the Community at the Blue Base has enabled us to feed tens of thousands of people within the local community. With food poverty and food insecurity impacting so many people, the pantry has become a lifesaver to many. Our pantries aren’t just about food, they also have a positive impact on people’s mental health and wellbeing.”

Dr Naomi Maynard, Director of Feeding Liverpool added:

“The Blue Base Pantry has developed into a vital community hub in the north of the city. Alongside providing affordable good food, the pantry is such a welcoming space where friendships have formed, people are given opportunities to volunteer and learn new skills, and essential advice and support has been given. It is a lifeline for many. At Feeding Liverpool, we have been privileged to support the pantry as it has grown and look forward to continuing to work together towards Good Food for All.”

Chris Shelley, Merseyside Coordinator at Your Local Pantry stated:

“The Blue Base Pantry is one of our biggest and busiest pantries. Ryan and his volunteers do a fantastic job, not just with the food they provide but with all the additional help and support they offer their members. Congratulations to the Blue Base Pantry on its 100th session and for becoming such an important part of its community.”

READ MORE: EVERTON IN THE COMMUNITY HOSTS PRESTIGIOUS BLUE HEART AWARDS

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