Mother’s pantry pulls village together after government school meals snub

PUBLISHED: 10:00 22 November 2020

Rachel Guy has been running a pantry from her home in Sutton since the start of the October half-term school holidays, and has continued to do so. Rachel is pictured with husband Ieuan and children Isaac, Olivia, Toby and Teddy. Picture: SUPPLIED/RACHEL GUY

Rachel Guy has been running a pantry from her home in Sutton since the start of the October half-term school holidays, and has continued to do so. Rachel is pictured with husband Ieuan and children Isaac, Olivia, Toby and Teddy. Picture: SUPPLIED/RACHEL GUY

Archant

A mother-of-four who launched her own pantry in response to the government’s decision not to provide free school meals during half-term said she would do it again in a heartbeat.

Rachel from Sutton has given and received donations of food and other essential items since the October school holidays, and another pantry has been set up in the village. Picture: SUPPLIED/RACHEL GUYRachel from Sutton has given and received donations of food and other essential items since the October school holidays, and another pantry has been set up in the village. Picture: SUPPLIED/RACHEL GUY

Rachel Guy was inspired to provide food and other essential items from her Sutton home by a friend who lives in her parents’ village in Norfolk, who was running a similar service for residents.

Rachel has been providing bags of goods on her driveway to villagers since the start of the school holidays in October, and only planned to run the pantry for that week.

“The decision to keep it open came just after I’d posted on Facebook to let the village know it would be finishing the Sunday of half-term,” she said.

“I thought there’s going to be another lockdown, winter is approaching, the elderly might feel nervous about going to the shops, so there’s so many a community pantry could help in the circumstances.

Rachel from Sutton has given and received donations of food and other essential items since the October school holidays, and another pantry has been set up in the village. Picture: SUPPLIED/RACHEL GUYRachel from Sutton has given and received donations of food and other essential items since the October school holidays, and another pantry has been set up in the village. Picture: SUPPLIED/RACHEL GUY

As well as her friend, Rachel was also encouraged by fellow villager Debbie Saberton who has set up another box outside her home, and has created a winter clothes bank for those in need.

Many people have donated their own items to the pantry, including warm coats and blankets, and Rachel has teamed up with Sutton CoE (VC) Primary School where pupils have designed posters to help spread the word even more.

“When I first started, I just filled the biggest Tupperware box I had with things from my cupboard,” she said.

“I left it out on my driveway, then took the kids out all day. When I returned, my driveway was full of donations; I was overwhelmed!

Pupils from Sutton CE (VC) Primary School have created and designed posters to raise awareness of the pantry. Picture: SUPPLIED/RACHEL GUYPupils from Sutton CE (VC) Primary School have created and designed posters to raise awareness of the pantry. Picture: SUPPLIED/RACHEL GUY

MORE: Time bank volunteers dedicate hundreds of hours to help villagers in need during lockdown

“Someone has even offered their storage freezer, if we ever branch out to do frozen goods. In their bedtime prayers, the children have often prayed that people will use ‘mummy’s pantry’!”

It may not be the most complicated of ideas according to Rachel, but it has most certainly given her village a helping hand during uncertain times.

“It might not seem like much, but each person it helps is well worth the effort,” she added.

“I’s helped the scores of villagers who have wanted to help in some way but just didn’t know how, and seeing a community effort like this unfold helps everyone!

“Would I do it again? Without question.”

You can find the pantries on The Row and Field Gate, Sutton or for more information, contact Rachel on Facebook.

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