STAFF at two Craven schools are supporting their local communities, parents and pupils to help cope with the cost-of-living crisis by running food pantries.

Greatwood Community Primary and Nursery School in Skipton and Glusburn Community Primary School in Glusburn are working closely with North Yorkshire Council’s Healthy Schools team as part of a pilot programme to provide sustainable and affordable food supplies to help the increasing number of families facing financial pressures.

Both schools are seeing their pantries going from strength to strength as they help more and more families; and they are also sustainable - making use of school-grown produce - as in the case of the Skipton school - and also making use of surplus supermarket food.

Jonelle Yeoman, headteacher of Greatwood Community Primary and Nursery School, explained that she first had the idea in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic when communities were sharing food, daily necessities and facing new food insecurity challenges.

The school, which prides itself on being a sustainable school, grows its own produce and gets eggs from its own ducks and chickens.

The Healthy Schools team helped the school link up with the Craven Food Partnership and FareShare to provide a weekly food delivery of surplus supermarket food to help launch the Greatwood Grocery.

The pantry, which is open on a Tuesday, launched six weeks ago and is going from strength-to-strength with people able to buy fresh fruit and vegetable as well as staples.

“We’ve had an amazing response with more and more families visiting each week,” said Mrs Yeoman. “We are thankful for a monetary donation from the Rotary Club of Skipton Craven which helped to kickstart this project.

"Skipton is an affluent town, however, there are families who are living in poverty and this is our way of giving back. We are not a foodbank, we are here for the community for them to have a chat, share recipes to prepare healthy and cost-effective meals and buy essentials at reduced prices."

She added: “We are a sustainable school and we grow our own produce – we grow our fruit and vegetables and have our own chickens and ducks supplying eggs on a daily basis.

“However, we do rely on donations from local supermarkets and local families who have supported this worthwhile project.”

It is a not-for-profit initiative with money made from the sale of groceries used to buy more supplies.

Mrs Yeoman added: “Anyone from the community can buy 10 items for £5. In our pantry we stock fresh fruit and vegetables, store cupboard favourites such as rice, cereal, soup, pasta, canned vegetables, biscuits, long-life packed food as well as toiletries and cleaning products.”

There is a similar set-up at Glusburn Community Primary School. The school’s staff joined forces with the Healthy Schools team who introduced them to Rethink Food to establish a food pantry for families and school staff, redistributing surplus supermarket food for a small charge.

This stops the food from going to waste and helps support customers with a good value weekly shop. Each weekly delivery is stacked on the food pantry trolley by pupils who enjoy arranging the produce into an enticing display.

A core of five to 10 families visit the food pantry each week with others popping in from time to time. The school’s staff are hoping to expand their range of food and would love to eventually serve the wider community too.

Mother-of-three Jade Robinson, who lives in Glusburn and who regularly shops from the pantry, said: “It’s a wonderful scheme which reduces food waste and saves money. It has been a huge blessing this past year when things have been tighter and the cost of living is extortionate.”

Katie Smith, the school's headteacher, said: “The pantry is primarily run by members of our school ambassador team and school council. They have the responsibility of pricing up the products on sale as well as being on hand to offer support and receive payment when families visit the pantry. This provides a great opportunity to develop a wide range of skills and experiences such as confidence and responsibility.

“North Yorkshire Council’s initial start-up funding of the scheme at our school has been fundamental in providing these opportunities this year and we will look to develop this over the coming years.”

North Yorkshire Council’s director of public health, Louise Wallace, said: “It’s a real boost to see the school pantries supporting families with sustainable and affordable food. Thank you to the staff, pupils, volunteers and to the kind people who have donated.”

More information about the Healthy Schools programme or if a North Yorkshire school wishes to set up their own food pantry is available via email at