Why we have food poverty in North Dorset

Why we have food poverty in North Dorset


1st October 2021

It’s almost a year since the first rural food pantry in England opened in Sturminster Newton. Back then, a lot of people were surprised at the numbers of people needing support. That hasn’t gone away, but there are several stories to celebrate from Vale Pantry, demonstrating how it is making a big difference to people’s lives.

Carole Jones is passionate about Vale Pantry which she set up with the Blackmore Vale Partnership. “It’s the best thing I have ever done,” she says. Today, 190 families or individuals are being supported. They pay £4.50 a week and can collect a range of foods from the pantry in Sturminster Newton. Fruit and vegetables are free. Since starting last year, 149 individuals or families who were originally helped, no longer need the services of Vale Pantry as they have been successfully supported through a difficult patch in their lives for example, or found work.

Carole and her team have also been looking deeper into the underlying issues that cause food poverty and why it is happening in North Dorset. They found several common threads. Carole explained: “A number of our clients have autistic children or a child with special educational needs. Typically, these children are not diagnosed until five years old. Up to then there is no firm diagnosis so the mums are often isolated. They cannot work or join the usual play groups, are embarrassed and isolated because of the child’s behaviour. Things we take for granted such as a supermarket visit can become a major experience. They are very isolated and stressed and can get depression. We also see older mothers with an autistic child now in their 30’s or 40’s and they are completely on their own. What we have done is set up a support group for these people and their children so they can share experiences and learn coping strategies. The kids can make as much noise as they like and it won’t matter.”

You can read the full story at The Blackmore Vale (written by Courtenay Hitchcock)

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