Community pantry ‘has been a lifeline’ for families

Ruth Marley

Ely Hero Ruth Marley who runs the Re-imagine Resource Centre in Witchford launched The Mepal Community Food Pantry. - Credit: Re-imagine Resource Centre

A community champion who set up a village pantry last year has said she is both saddened and pleased with the response.

Ely Hero Ruth Marley runs the Re-imagine Resource Centre in Witchford and launched the community pantry scheme to help residents in and around Mepal.

As well as donations of foods and other essentials, it also offers “rescued food” which comes from businesses and supermarkets.

A selection of the foods available at the Mepal Community Pantry

Ruth Marley, of the Re-imagine Resource Centre says the Mepal Community Pantry 'has been a lifeline' for many families. - Credit: Re-imagine Resource Centre

The sign at the door of The Mepal Community Food Pantry reads: “Take what you need, and add if you can.”

Reflecting on the reaction to the scheme, Ruth said: “I didn’t think it would be so necessary but six months on it has been a lifeline to not just struggling families but we also doorstep deliver to those who can’t get out due to shielding.”


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She added: “It has become a much-needed addition to the village.”

Mepal Community Pantry sign

A sign on display at The Mepal Community Food Pantry. - Credit: Re-imagine Resource Centre

Not-for-profit organisations like the Re-imagine Resource Centre are among the many sectors which have been affected by the pandemic.

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While there is still a huge demand for their support and services, they have been facing significant drops in their key income streams and donations.

To help see them through, Ruth has set up a GoFundMe page.

New adventure ahead for Re-imagine in Witchford thanks to a John Lewis grant. Picture: RUTH MARLEY

Ely Hero Ruth Marley (Left) who runs the Re-Imagine Resource Centre and set up The Mepal Community Food Pantry. - Credit: Archant

As the number of coronavirus cases is still high, Ruth has hinted she may continue to maintain the village pantry once the pandemic passes.

She said: “I feel like as long as people have a need and they’re willing to continue to give and take food, I’ll keep up the pantry as long as I can.

“Even though alone you can’t save the world you can make a real difference to a part of it.

“Follow your compassion where it takes you, because compassion fuels kindness, gentleness and patience - it binds a community together and creates an equal space for everyone to thrive.”

Food at The Mepal Community Food Pantry

The Mepal Community Food Pantry has been helping families throughout the pandemic. - Credit: Re-imagine Resource Centre

During the very first coronavirus lockdown last year, a separate JustGiving Page was set up for Ruth because it was not known when the Re-imagine store off the A142 would be able to open.

All the major fundraising events it was also due to attend were also cancelled.

Shelves of food at The Mepal Community Food Pantry

Shelves of food at The Mepal Community Food Pantry - Credit: Re-imagine Resource Centre

Yet, despite this, Ruth continued to deliver hundreds and meals and essentials to those in need, put together craft kits for children and made fabric face masks.

In 2018, Ruth was awarded the Community Champion Category at the Ely Standard's Ely Hero Awards which commend those who have carried out selfless acts of compassion and courage.

To find out more about the Re-imagine Resource Centre or to make a donation, visit its GoFundMe page. It also has a Facebook page.

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