PUPILS from Saline Primary School have teamed up with the community council to open a food pantry for the village.

The primary seven class, as a part of the Social Enterprise Academy, thought that a community pantry would be a wonderful addition to the area and got in touch with the community council to present their idea.

Charlene Hunter, the class teacher, told the Press: "My Primary 7 class have been taking part in the Social Enterprise Academy and a few of them came up with the idea of starting a food pantry to help people in the community with the cost of living crisis as well as tackling food waste.

"We then contacted the community council and organised a meeting where two of my Primary 7 girls presented their idea.

"As a school we have created posters and logo. We also have drop off points within the school for the community to bring in donations. The school are now looking at creating a garden area so we can grow our own things for the food pantry."

Not only did they successfully pitch the idea, the kids have also committed to volunteering their time at the pantry.

Kay Jackson, the project coordinator of the Saline and Steelend Fabulous Food Pantry, said: "Someone at the community council brought up the idea of having a community pantry and the school had also been in touch with us about their ideas about a community pantry.

"The School did an all-singing, all-dancing powerpoint presentation and they had called it the Saline and Steelend Fabulous Food Pantry. They had put quite a lot of work into it as part of their Social Enterprise Academy so they had come up with all of these ideas!"

After seeing the enthusiasm of the kids and all of their ideas, the community council asked their constituents for their opinion on the idea and it was a success. The pantry opened its doors at the beginning of March and has had a very successful first few weeks of operating.

In fact, it has been so successful that the community council have had to reduce its opening hours as they keep selling out of food!

Kay continued: "We're totally sold out within about 40 minutes! Everyone queues up to come into the pantry, to sit and have a wee cup of tea, so we're always done and dusted before one o'clock."

The pantry, while not just committed to offering affordable food to the community during the cost of living crisis, is also focused on sustainability and reducing food waste.

"We're really committed to reducing food waste," she said. "We do have stores that we collect from and it's great that we can do that so we are helping with the environment. We also have big tubs of stuff so we can give people a little bit. It'll be stuff like enough soap powder for four washes or washing up liquid or antibacterial.

"A lot of it is based around sustainability."

To enter the Saline and Steelend Fabulous Food Pantry it costs £4. For that you get a good selection of fresh food, tinned food, household supplies and a tea or coffee included in that price. It's not just for those who are struggling either, the community council want to make it clear that it's for everyone.

Kay added: "This pantry is for everyone, and everyone who uses the pantry is supporting the community in one way or another. People will say 'oh I've not been because I don't need to buy food cheap' but actually, coming and paying your £4 each week you are supporting us being able to provide for people who need it.

"Everybody is impacted by the cost of living crisis, it's not about being hard up, it's about supporting your community."

The pantry is located in the Saline Community Centre and is open every Wednesday from noon to 1pm. For more information visit the Saline, Steelend & District Community Facebook group.