30 November 2022

  • Almost half (48%) of Brits feeling a sense of hopelessness about the cost of food, but 31% 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

  • 49% are unaware of other community food projects and support hubs available across the country, which are already providing long-term dignified support to people facing food insecurity all year round, exacerbated this Christmas by the cost of living crisis.

  • 44% say that if there was a more accessible food solution in their community, they would be less hesitant to seek support

  • 67% of those who are aware of access to community pantries* believe that this is a more sustainable solution to improve household finances amid the cost-of-living crisis

30th November 2022 - New research from Co-op reveals a third of those impacted by the rising cost of living are turning to food charities more often.

With household bills on the rise, an independent survey commissioned by the ethical convenience retailer revealed that almost a half of Brits (48%) feel a sense of hopelessness when thinking about the cost of food*.

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.

Of those most impacted and turning to food banks, over half (56%) 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.

To date, Your Local Pantry has helped tens of thousands of households strengthen their community, improve finances and access more affordable food as well as reduce isolation and improve mental health. In fact, 76% of those who have benefited from access to Your Local Pantry membership have felt that it has been good for their mental health**

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.”

James Henderson, Your Local Pantry Network Development Coordinator, added: “Pantries are fantastic places. They bring people together around food, soften the impact of high living costs, and strengthen the power and potential of neighbourhoods. Communities have long wanted to improve food security while upholding dignity, choice and hope, and Pantries are a proven win-win solution. We're really excited to be teaming up with the Co-op, so another 150 neighbourhoods can open Pantries of their own."


Notes to Editors

Co-op conducted an independent nationally representative survey of 2,000 Brits.

*According to an Independent study by Co-op, 2022

**Of Your Local Pantry Members surveyed. Your Local Pantry impact report, 2021

About the Co-op:

The Co-op is one of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives with interests across food, funerals, insurance, and legal services. Owned by over 4 million UK consumers, the Co-op operates 2,600 food stores, over 800 funeral homes and provides products to over 5,100 other stores, including those run by independent co-operative societies and through its wholesale business, Nisa Retail Limited. Employing over 63,000 people, the Co-op has an annual turnover of £11.5 billion. As well as having clear financial and operational objectives, the Co-op is a recognised leader for its social goals and community-led programmes. The Co-op exists to meet members’ needs and stand up for the things they believe in.