Charity launches new 'pantry' - free shop for parents in need

The pantry was able to get a fridge to keep fresh produce.

The pantry was able to get a fridge to keep fresh produce. - Credit: SMILE

Romford community charity SMILE has launched its first "pantry".

The pantry is a free shop stocking non-perishable, household cleaning items, toiletries, and a fridge full of fresh produce. Registered clients are invited down by appointment to complete a free shop.

This gives the independence of choosing items they prefer for their family as well as providing the shopping experience in a safe environment, says SMILE.

A spokesperson for the charity said: "This is a module we have been using for the past year with our clothing bank and it has been a great success.

"Throughout the year we support families who are on low income or are in financial crisis. Our aim is to provide aid to allow all children living in poverty to have the same opportunities as their better off peers."

It took the team a few days to sort thought all the generous donations.

It took the team a few days to sort thought all the generous donations. - Credit: SMILE


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The charity also provides free school uniforms, clothing bundles, prom dresses, Easter treats and Christmas presents.

"During this difficult time these families have had their already small income stretched even further," the charity says.

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The pantry is open for food donations as well as to reach out to those struggling families that may require its support. Registration is subject to availability and referral from a professional such as a teacher, social worker, medical worker or housing officer.

In the run-up to the opening, SMILE says it was "overwhelmed" by the generous donations by the public, including four car loads of goods donated by the Harold Wood Primary School, organised by the Harold Wood Teacher-Parent Association.

"Overwhelmed" by the four car loads of donations from Harold Wood Primary.

"Overwhelmed" by the four car loads of donations from Harold Wood Primary. - Credit: SMILE

"It took a good few hours to sort and stack but we got there. Thank you to all the parents/staff and students involved!"

But the pantry is still looking to stock up on "free from" food (gluten free),  packs of nappies (all sizes), laundry and cleaning supplies, pet food, toothpaste and toothbrushes.

If you are looking to donate items please contact the team directly before bringing the items down and SMILE urges residents to only donate to site if you are making a essential journey to Romford.

The pantry is still looking to stock up on "free from" food (gluten free),  packs of nappies (all sizes), laundry and cleaning supplies, pet food, toothpaste and toothbrushes.

The pantry is still looking to stock up on "free from" food (gluten free), packs of nappies (all sizes), laundry and cleaning supplies, pet food, toothpaste and toothbrushes. - Credit: SMILE

Please follow instructions on the front door when donating.

To donate direct message them on Facebook: facebook.com/SmileLondonEssex/ or call 07415141437. 

The pantry is open Monday to Friday 9.30am to 4pm at 52 North Street, Romford.

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