KLSB Community Pantry became an idea in October 2019 when we realised that there was a need in the community for support to help tackle food poverty & waste. We have came a long way since then and have went through many changes to get to where we are now, which is one of the big 3 food resources in the Falkirk area, the other two being The Falkirk Foodbank & Kerrsiebank. We are part of a wider network of food providers which was set up by KLSB in March 2020 and through this network we share tips on running our individual pantries as well as resources. KLSB are also recognised as being one of the most successful pantries in the area and our model has been copied by many, However, to continue to offer the best value for money to as many as we can we need to change the way that we operate. This is nothing new as you will often find major retailers changing the way that they run operations. KLSB will forever evolve and change with demands and as we grow we will install new idea and working practices. Many pantries have their own working practices that work for them , however we sometimes see that these ideas are not always suitable and many pantries and foodbanks are struggling due to simply standing still. We see food banks/pantries running on a shoestring with very little goods on the shelves and we see some posting on social media every day begging for donations simply to stay open and we are aware of a few that have closed altogether. Many of these pantries opened during covid and were awarded a great deal of money and goods to stock the shelves.
Recently we were awarded funding to help the community through food support which also included our latest initiative of the grab a bag scheme. Part of the terms of the award was that we had to submit weekly reports to the funder to allow them to see how the funds are being distributed. We asked that you all take note of the goods that were being given out including all free items, this was to allow us to report back the average spend for each household. Thank you all for your response as we have had a 100% return on all shopping trips. The figures are in and quite frankly they are shocking. To let you understand how we came to the average spend you need to know our thought process We took all items that went out and put a cost to them, for example most tinned items, for example beans, hoops, soups etc that went out were put at a cost of £1.00, we know that you can buy these for well under that cost in the shops, however all tinned meats, pork, meatballs, curries etc were put at a cost of £1.50 and as these often cost more in the shops our costing system would average itself out in the end. The same applied to other goods in the pantry. Thanks to Lynn we managed to get all of the food and households items onto a spreadsheet and by using our costing system we worked out that over the course of 1 week the average purchase by our members was worth £27.70. Weekly monthly and yearly figures, including the cost to the members are: -
Week: - £27.70 - Cost to member £2.31 per shop Month: - £120.03 - Cost to member £10.00 per Month Year: - £1440.4 - Cost to member £120.00 per year
Our running costs for the pantry per year are : - Rent for King Street: - £7800.00 Rent for Logans House: - £5400.00 Insurance: - £350.00 Waste Management: - £780.00 Fareshare (Food): - £1800.00 Electricity: - £500 (Approx) Total: - £16,630
As you can see, these figures are unsustainable and is not good business practice, therefore we need to make drastic changes to our operations before we are at a level where we are begging on a weekly basis for donations like some other pantries. We are not willing to increase the membership costs as people are finding it even harder just now to make ends meet so we have decided to stop most free items and put a cost on everything. Making this change will allow us to be more sustainable in the future whist still giving our members value for money, we will also be able to bring in new members meaning that we can increase the overall funds coming through the door which will be redistributed back into the community through the pantry.
The colour coding will remain the same, but with red and green items only, the blue code will be removed. Members will be able to pick 3 red items but we will again restrict this to 1 item from the freezer but now 2 from the red shelf, they will now also be restricted to pick 7 green items which will include any of the previous blue coded stock and will also include all fruit & veg and pet food. We can still offer value to the member as all of the potatoes will be weighed and bagged to ensure all is fair but if a member has a family of 6 then they can collect 6 bags of potatoes instead of 1, if it a family of 3 then they can have 3 bags etc etc. Any stock that is nearing its use by date will be donated to our local homeless shelters or Salvation Army for their use. meaning that there will be next to zero waste. We shall also introduce ingredient bags which can have for example, potatoes, carrots, onions, turnip, lentils & stock cubes. We can also put in an instruction leaflet explaining how to make homemade soup and pass that out as 1 red item. Greggs and bread will continue to be free to anyone that asks and obviously subject to availability.
Hopefully soon we can have a visit from Environmental Health and we can have a fully working kitchen which can allow us to create homemade meals, again to be passed out to our members. This will allow us to use our food stock wisely.
By taking on new premises at King Street will allow us to rotate the stock every 6 weeks or so, meaning that the shelves will look more inviting and uniformed and this will also allow us to manage goods that are nearing the end of life better.
We fully appreciate that this is a major change, but we feel that it is a necessary one.
If you have any questions or input then please ask on the WhatsApp group.