LCBC Community Pantry

We are overjoyed to announce that we will be bringing a Community Pantry to St. Helen’s Auckland Parish Hall, DL14 9DL (please refer to the map below), opening on Tuesday 3rd March, 12noon until 3pm. We will be open every Tuesday and Thursday from then on at the same time.

We will hold an official opening day on Saturday 14th March, 11am until 2.30pm to coincide with Wear Valley Community Action’s Easter fun day on the same day.

Please come along and support this local project.

This is only possible through the funding provided by Believe Housing, our continued donations from local supermarkets and the volunteers at Little Chefs Big Chefs CIC.


What is the LCBC Community Pantry?

Our community pantry is a food and non-food ‘store’ which is open to everyone. Our aim is to actively reduce food, non-food and plastic waste whilst helping people to save money.

What will be on offer?

As a charitable organisation, we collect surplus food such as bakery, storecupboard, fruit, vegetables, some chilled and frozen foods as well as various non-food items including flowers and occasionally clothing from local stores. These may be end of line products, food on or just past its best before date or simply surplus stock. The amounts and types of food and non-food vary so this will be reflected on what will be offered each week.


We can offer guidance on how to use the different foods (just like a traditional greengrocer or butcher) and how you can use leftovers. Leaflets on how to use up foods, recipes and recycling will also be available. We also plan to signpost the community to services and activities in the area through literature and our own knowledge of what is available.

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As well as the pantry, we hope to encourage everyone to use and donate to a ‘pre-loved’ clothing rail offering good condition items. Rather than dropping these in a bin, we would love it if you could share them and/or use the clothing rail yourself or for your family. We know some clothing gets worn only a few times, or in the case of children, grown out of in what seems like moments, and it is a shame that the energy, time and work gone into  making them is wasted for these to ultimately end up in landfill.

The rail also includes new clothing which we occasionally collect from stores.


The value of unused clothing in wardrobes has been estimated at around £30 billion. It is also estimated £140 million worth of clothing goes into landfill each year. Did you know that under composting circumstances, natural fibres such as cotton or wool are expected to break down in 6-12 months, yet synthetics take many more years, as many as hundreds?


How will it work?

We will be open on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from the 3rd March 2020 (12 – 3 pm) and if successful, look at opening at other times if we can get community support.

All items will be available for a small service contribution reflective of what you take. Any contributions will go towards covering costs such as the lease/energy, transportation, vehicle wear and tear and fuel. This will then help us to continue this project and hopefully towards other initiatives which we hope to offer.

We will be offering food loose where possible and ask for you to bring your own bags.


Will the food offered be safe to eat?

YES, YES, YES! The food we collect is surplus stock where much of it will be on, or past the best before date but this is still safe to eat. Best before refers to the quality of the food not the safety so for example, the texture may be different.
We will not and cannot by law pass on any foods for human consumption past their use by date. The only exception to this is foods which can be frozen. We can freeze foods on their use by date and label this appropriately with guidance of how to use. This is perfectly safe and legal as freezing acts as a ‘pause’ button.

Due to cross contamination of foods such as bakery, we have to advise that those with severe allergies should not use the pantry.

We wish to actively reduce the stigma and fear of consuming food past its best before date and truly believe that we need to return to using our own judgement on these foods and in doing so, reduce our food waste and therefore our impact on the environment.

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Why we can’t provide bags and why we unpack foods?

Much of the plastic packaging and bags cannot be recycled at home in our area and due to their composition, they will take many years to break down. If we encourage everyone to bring their own bags to reuse again (and again), this will help to reduce the amount of  plastic going to landfill.

Many foods wrapped in plastic sweat and deteriorate quicker and sometimes we are tempted to buy foods prepacked because they work out cheaper per product or there are no smaller options. Both reasons can lead to more food waste. 

As you may be aware, we are facing a big shift in climate change so if we all did a little bit in reducing our carbon footprint by reducing our plastic waste as well as our food and general waste too, we may help to slow this change.

If we were to provide bags, we would also have to add an extra charge.


Reducing our waste, reusing what we can, and recycling can be a key part of a climate change strategy to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.


Are there any other benefits to this project?

Yes. Any foods which are not used and have reached their use by date, such as bagged vegetables or bread that is very stale, will be passed on to two local smallholders for animal feed and composting. This means that we reduce food waste even more.

For every five kilograms of food that we distribute, and you use, the impact is just over 16kg CO2 savings and an equivalent of just under 12 meals. How great is that?

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Little Chefs Big Chefs CIC is a registered food business and we adhere strictly to our legal responsibilities to comply with food legislation in order to keep everyone safe.

We hope to help support our local community and would like to invite you all to be a part of this project through feedback, ideas, attending meetings and perhaps volunteering.

It is only through the support of the local community that we can work together to create change and a better place.