Quantock Foodbank drives innovation with a fully electric mobile pantry

5th April 2024

The Quantock Foodbank, a combined Foodbank and Pantry operating on a referral basis, is a vital lifeline for families in need across the Quantock area of West Somerset. It now has a fully electric vehicle supplying groceries free in emergency or for a small subscription. It is thought to be one of the first foodbanks in the country to operate in this environmentally friendly way.

During the Covid lockdown, the Quantock foodbank relied on a fleet of vehicles to distribute food to every village in their area. However, recognising the lack of sustainability in this approach, they sought alternative methods to continue providing essential services to those in need.

Marlene Mason, Manager of Quantock Foodbank says, “The Foodbank acknowledges the Anglican Church’s third and fifth ‘Marks of Mission’ - ‘To respond to human need by loving service and to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth’. 

“As we go about this service, we will not be producing any harmful greenhouse gases and, when empty, the vehicle will return with donations they’ve collected from parishes so cutting down on the number of car journeys needed to deliver food to us.  In this way we hope to play our part in helping to shrink the Diocese of Bath and Well’s carbon footprint to achieve net zero by 2030.”

The Ford E-Transit, equipped with a custom-built state-of-the-art insulated box body with integrated solar panels ensures fresh, nutritious food can be delivered to vulnerable people in local, rural communities.

The £80,000 cost of the truck, including an EV charger installation, was funded through a combination of community fundraising, corporate sponsorships, and small grants. It boasts several environmentally friendly features:

  • Zero-emission electric engine: minimizing carbon footprint.
  • Integrated solar panels: harnessing the sun's power to charge the internal equipment including; refrigerator, lights, and other small items.
  • Insulated box body ensuring fresh produce is maintained at optimal temperatures.

Since the start of the year demand for the pantry service has increased. Marlene says many of those who use it are working families, some are holding down two or three jobs at a time. For those families and the Quantock Foodbank the mobile pantry will be a game-changer, allowing it to expand its reach and serve communities further afield in outlying villages. 

Marlene says, "This incredible vehicle is a testament to the dedication and innovation of our team and supporters. With the rising cost of living putting immense pressure on families, this mobile pantry will enable us to deliver vital food aid more effectively and efficiently. We're incredibly grateful to all who made this possible."

The new electric mobile pantry will begin operating on Tuesday 30 April. Quantock Foodbank is now seeking additional volunteers to help operate the mobile pantry and ensure its smooth running. 

For more information or to volunteer, please email Marlene Mason, Manager Quantock Foodbank at quantockfoodbank@gmail.com

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