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    ‘Almost half of Brits feel hopelessness about rising food costs’

    (Photo by Hollie Adams / AFP) (Photo by HOLLIE ADAMS/AFP via Getty Images)

    Almost a half of Brits (48 per cent) feel a sense of hopelessness when thinking about the cost of food, reveals a new research from Co-op, as household bills continue to rise.

    The increasing demand on food banks has been widely reported on in recent months, as the pressure of rising food cost builds. The independent study of 2,000 Brits showed the need for alternative sustainable solutions, as the survey suggests there is a stigma around the use of food banks continues to be a barrier.  About 31 per cent of those impacted by the rising cost of food have not turned to food banks due to stigma and the feeling that they may be taking products from those who are more in need, stated Co-op.

    Of those most impacted and turning to food banks, over half (56 per cent) aren’t aware of alternative, sustainable and dignified food projects which can help improve household finances.

    As part of its mission to ensure communities and members have better access to sustainable food solutions, Co-op has announced a major new partnership with Your Local Pantry – a low-cost food project and community hub. The partnership, which is funded by Co-op Members, will see the Your Local Pantry network triple within three years from 75 to 225 Pantries across the UK, with the addition of 150 new Pantries.

    The network, supported by the charity Church Action on Poverty, has expanded rapidly since the first Pantry was opened by Stockport Homes Group in 2013, accelerating throughout the pandemic, as communities sought sustainable responses to the financial impact of lockdowns.

    Through the new partnership, Co-op and Your Local Pantry aim to support over 32,000 households over the next three years, saving Local Pantry members almost £5million on shopping bills – up to £1,000 a year per Pantry user. Co-op will raise awareness of affordable community solutions to food initiatives, helping to tackle household finances as costs continue to rise.

    Unlike a food bank, Pantries are open to all and work like any other grocery store, in that members choose the food they want from the shelves. Members pay a few pounds per shop and in return can choose groceries worth many times more.

    The partnership is just one of the initiatives launched by Co-op to support its customers, colleagues and members access more affordable food and manage household budgets. Earlier this year, Co-op invested £37M to lower the price of the 120 most frequently purchased products, and locked in these low prices until the New Year.

    Since 2016, Co-op members have raised £117 million for local communities, including funding for over 30,000 local community projects supporting an estimated 7M people across the UK throughout the Co-op’s Local Community Fund.

    Rebecca Birkbeck, Director of Community and Membership Participation said: “At Co-op, we believe that everybody should have access to good food. It is thanks to our members that we are able support this innovative partnership with Your Local Pantry, as well as many other initiatives, such as our investment grow Hubbub’s Community Fridge network.

    “We are proud to be continuing to support Your Local Pantry, which offers communities a long-term, sustainable solution to help manage their household finances and learn new skills. For all at Co-op, this feels like a real step in the right direction to ensure fairer access to food for all.”

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