Storehouse and Field is based at Shafton Methodist Church and is the brainchild of Amy Calvert, innovation manager at Good Food Barnsley,
“The Good Food Barnsley project is a partnership that is all about our belief that everyone has the right to the food they need to thrive,” said Amy.
“I spent a lot of time thinking about food access and the food ladder. At the bottom of the ladder are the food banks and soup kitchens which help people who are in crisis and at the other end of the scale are the high-end supermarkets..
“Our aim was to provide something that helps bridge that gap and supports people who are either coming out of food crisis or describe themselves as just about getting by.
“This community-led food hub allows people to be in control of what they are buying and eating. They choose the food they want to eat and we are also providing food education and support.
“There aren’t that many options in Shafton which is one of the reasons we chose this area and it is really starting to bring the community together. I would love to see one of these in every area of Barnsley, encouraging greater engagement and generating a love and enthusiasm for food. Ideally, we would like a food hub to be accessible to everyone who needs it.
“We now have over forty members which we think is great as the project only opened in June and we have a real mixed bag of people using it. We have done cooking demonstrations, workshops and when anyone joins they get a welcome pack which includes a bag for life, herbs and spices and a recipe holder where they can build up their collection.”
The well-stocked shop is attractively designed and features a welcoming cafe area where members often gather for a coffee and a chat. There are recipe cards, friendly staff and regular visitors from other organisations to offer help and advice.
Run by Amy and her assistant Chiara Albrizio, the project centres around a low cost monthly membership which allows weekly access to the pantry and members fill their shopping basket with a wide range of quality food.
Standard membership starts from £26 a month with Pay It Forward and Large Family options available with members able to access food worth approximately £18 a week.
Young families and the elderly make up most of the current membership and it’s not just the quality food that keeps them coming back for more.
Former NCB worker David Ribbon, 76, said: “It’s a wonderfully friendly place. I saw the sign up outside the church and wandered in and now I’m here every week.
“My wife Pam collects the series of recipes, we do try different things and coming here is really enjoyable. Everyone needs a mental lift sometimes and it is delightful to have charming company and kindness in abundance.
“I have encouraged a few of our friends to sign up too.”
Another member, Kerry Wilson, from Cudworth, who shops for her family-of-four heard about the project via word-of-mouth, decided to try it for a week and has been coming ever since: “I come here on my lunch break from work and do have to do a top-up shop elsewhere but it’s really good. Because there is different food each week you try things you haven’t had before we’re trying new recipes, it’s like Ready, Steady, Cook! It’s ideal.”
Amy believes that the current energy price crisis and rise in the cost of living generally makes the project all the more vital: “The feedback that we are getting from people we talk to is that things are already much harder than they were at the beginning of the year. Members have said that by using the hub and getting a weekly basket of shopping for approximately £6, it is enabling them to put a bit aside for winter fuel payments.”
The Good Food Barnsley project has been nominated in the Love Where You Live category in the Proud of Barnsley awards.