The Blue Base Pantry, Everton in the Community’s essential food market initiative, celebrated its one-year anniversary this week, providing 17,462 people with access to high-quality discounted food and saving over 18 tonnes of food from landfills.
The official charity of Everton Football Club provides a variety of life-changing programmes throughout the Liverpool City Region aimed at addressing social issues prevalent on Merseyside’s streets, such as health, employability, anti-social behaviour, education, and poverty. The majority of EitC’s delivery takes place in Liverpool 4, one of the UK’s most socially deprived wards, and Blue Base Pantry was launched a year ago to assist the local community in dealing with the aftereffects of the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis.
The initiative, delivered in collaboration with Fans Supporting Foodbanks, St Andrew’s Community Network, Your Local Pantry, and FareShare, builds on Everton’s Blue Family Campaign, which provided urgent assistance to over 31,000 at-risk individuals during COVID-19. Following on from this, the Blue Base pantry has continued to assist residents in coping with the rising cost of living by providing them with access to a wide range of high-quality food, equating to approximately £20 in goods, in exchange for a token fee of £3.50.
In addition to providing members with discounted food, the charity has partnered with Riverside Housing, Enterprise Credit Union, Job Centre Plus, and Smoke Free Liverpool to provide wrap-around services, such as guidance on benefits, welfare, and housing support, at the weekly sessions, which take place every Thursday from 10am to 12pm at The Blue Base on Salop Street. Every week, a registered GP, a Citizens Advice Bureau case worker, and the charity’s employability team are on hand to provide employment advice at a fortnightly job fair.
Since its inception in June 2022, the weekly programme has not only fed 17,462 people and saved 18,306kgs of food from landfills, but it has also become the third busiest ‘Your Local Pantry’ in the UK and the largest single-day ‘Your Local Pantry’ in operation. In just a year, the initiative has enrolled 466 active members, received 6,722 visits, and assisted 275 local families with benefits, housing, and financial advice. As a result, the pantry has grown from its initial goal of combating food insecurity and poverty to become a comprehensive community hub, expanding its offerings to best meet the needs of the local community.
Reflecting on the impact of the community initiative to date, Adam Howard, Senior Programme Manager commented:
“We operate in one of the most socially deprived wards in the UK, and the need in this area surrounding Goodison Park has seen us cement our place as the fourth biggest Your Local Food Pantry outside of London and Birmingham. We have a duty of care to our local community to help them cope with the rising costs of living and we are proud to be able to support so many people in need through our Blue Base Pantry.
“We have seen the initiative evolve from a weekly food market with the aim of tackling food insecurity and poverty to a multipurpose hub which offers several different services that residents need. The success of the pantry over the last year was made possible thanks to our dedicated volunteers and delivery partners, who have also helped to create a vibrant community atmosphere and a real sense of togetherness at The Blue Base where countless friendships have been built.”
Dave Kelly from Fans Supporting Foodbanks added:
“Fans Supporting Foodbanks currently operate six mobile pantries across the Liverpool City Region. In the last calendar year, we have fed 120,000 people. Our partnership with EitC has enabled us to continue the growth of our mobile pantries, and it was important for us to build our relationship with Everton Football Club within the Blue mile. The year ahead will be a demanding one for us, but I am sure we will rise to the challenge.”
Tracey Crookall from St. Andrews Community Network also said:
“We are delighted with the success of the pantry so far, the support that it provides to the local community is crucial and continues to grow week-on-week. We have also really enjoyed working with colleagues from EitC, and it goes without saying that the volunteers are incredible – the team always goes above and beyond to provide a welcoming and supportive environment, ensuring that the pantry runs as smoothly as possible each week.”
For more information on The Blue Base Pantry, visit the website here.