Love Glastonbury

The Glastonbury Charity Distributing Food and Sharing Love

We are seeing a blossoming of new volunteer initiatives in Glastonbury, in response to the crises that are impacting the lives of all of us right now – food and fuel poverty, climate change and loneliness. In a world which is increasingly fractured, deliberately fostering human connection becomes a radical act. I’ve been finding out about Love Glastonbury, a charity which don’t just distribute food but also spreads unconditional love throughout the community. I’ve learnt how Love Glastonbury supports the town and how everyone, local or visitor, can contribute to their work.

Love Glastonbury was started by Gina Ty Wharton in July 2020, in response to the Covid Lockdowns. Gina became aware of how many people in the town were experiencing food poverty, St Benedict’s Ward in Glastonbury is one of the 10% most deprived areas in the UK. Gina thought all those in need should be able to access food, without having to complete the paperwork that was necessary when dealing with the existing food banks. Her first initiative was to open the Food Fridge and Love Glastonbury became a registered charity at the end of 2021. 

Gina was soon joined by other local people who wanted to make a difference. I met up with Miranda Millan and Liz Pearson, two of the trustees of Love Glastonbury. They explained that the charity’s role is primarily to alleviate food poverty in the town and reduce the impact of food waste on the environment. They achieve this through two initiatives, the Community Fridge and the Community Pantry. 

The Community Fridge

Miranda explains that as the fresh food that goes in the fridge would otherwise go to landfill. it is open to anyone to use, you can just go in and take what you need. It’s generally short-dated stuff from supermarkets, but also donations from local growers, companies and individuals that find themselves with surplus fresh food. Volunteers collect food and re-stock the fridge several times a day. 

The fridge is located in front of the Town hall on Magdalene Street. Opening times are 9 am to 4 pm every day.

The Community Pantry

The Pantry is for people on a low income, if you go along you will simply be asked if you are experiencing food crisis. You don’t need to go into more details or provide proof, they don’t take names. The Pantry is subsidised, they ask for a suggested donation of £2.50 for up to 10 items, but it’s flexible. Miranda tells me that one person used the pantry for two months while they were waiting to be paid, then donated £50 when they were. These donations just about cover the costs of buying the food from FareShare, the UK’s national network of charitable food redistributors, who manage which supermarket donations go to which charities. The Pantry has now moved into the old Secret Meeting Rooms so they now need to cover their rent and electric costs too. 

The Pantry is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-3pm at their new venue (Silver Street end of the Abbey Mews Arcade, which you can find on the High Street, opposite the Post Office).

If you can’t get there in person they can deliver a food parcel to you – you can send them a Facebook message by 1pm on Thursday for delivery on a Friday.

Glastonbury Community Food

Who uses Love Glastonbury’s Services?

Miranda tells me that everyone who uses the service lives locally. They estimate that 20 to 30 people use the fridge in a day, 100 to 150 unique individuals a week. It gets restocked several times a day, but there is often a queue of people waiting for it to open. The Pantry serves 30 to 70 people when it opens on Tuesdays and Thursdays, some come every week and there are always new people turning up. They don’t have precise figures or demographic details because they purposefully don’t ask people for information. 


Love Glastonbury is run by volunteers, Miranda tells me “We’ve got volunteers who have been in the town for a long time, but the most enthusiastic are people who retired here, a lot of people moved here after lockdown. People see volunteering with us as part of their social life, we have very active social media groups and quarterly meetings, which we try to make fun”.

If you can spare 30-60 minutes per week and would like to get involved with these community food projects, please email or send them a Facebook message for more information:

A Sense of Pride

I asked Miranda what she got from volunteering, she told me she wanted to give back to the Glastonbury community where she was born and raised:

“I feel a sense of responsibility to this town. It brought me up, the community gave me an anchor and a sense of self. After leaving for a long time, it’s brought me back. I feel a responsibility to contribute and give back. I can use my skills as a fundraising consultant and charity government professional, mainly working with NGOs, to help local projects”. 

“This project has been great to meet with people I wouldn’t normally chat with, just talking to people at the Fridge, the volunteers. Glastonbury isn’t homogenous, you can be different, but you can still fit in. There’s a sense of pride about this town”. 

Reaching Out

Love Glastonbury also packed Christmas hampers, one went out to every Pupil Premium family, Miranda says “We wanted to reduce the barriers and create connections with people we weren’t reaching. One local headteacher said the hampers made a tremendous difference to people’s family Christmas. It also meant we got to build connections with local schools”.

Love Glastonbury can also refer people to Bridging the Gap, the Glastonbury and Street Foodbank, they tell me there’s lots of joined-up working with other food initiatives. However, there is a need for more communication between all the people doing stuff – charities, faith groups and not-for-profit organisations. There also needs to be more notices informing people what services are available. 

Pam at the Love Glastonbury Food Pantry
Volunteer Pam at the Pantry

A Typical Day in the Pantry

I popped into the Pantry one Thursday afternoon to see how it all worked in practice and chatted with volunteers Marisa and Pam. The pantry is in a large bright space and shelves are stacked with dried and tinned food, including meat and fish, pasta, rice and cereals, there are also essentials like toiletries. There’s a friendly atmosphere and a steady stream of visitors, some collecting food, others bringing in donations. A woman comes in with a stack of nappies which are gratefully received. They’re a diverse bunch, 

Marisa tells me “I like the ethos of the fridge because it’s all about zero waste. I like the way the allotment people put their surplus in, everyone can use it. The pantry supports people in need, so what we’re doing is potentially serving a lot of people in the community”.

A young guy popped in to pick up some tinned food but also arranged to bring in some vegetables from his allotment. He tells me: “Whenever we’ve done a cookery course or a communal meal down at Bridies Yard it’s been really popular. Food really brings people together. People in houses are sometimes more isolated than those of us in caravans”. 

Another of the Pantry users said: “Without this, I’d have starved, I had no benefits coming in. If it hadn’t been for this and the church I wouldn’t have spoken to anyone in the week. The prices are doubling in the supermarkets. Without this where would we be?”.

Pam who’s been in the town for 26 years explained how she came to be involved: “My husband started volunteering when Love Glastonbury first started, he used to fill up the fridge, but he got ill and can’t do it anymore, so I’ve taken over. I can still do something voluntarily even though I’m a full-time carer for my husband. It gets me out of the house and means I still feel I’m doing something useful. My husband really misses the volunteering as he’s not mobile, but we’ve got the space now (in the new premises) so he can come in his wheelchair he can still feel involved”.

“I don’t think there is any other town where this would work. I’ve spoken to friends who say it would get stampeded or broken into, people wouldn’t share so well elsewhere. We’ve got a great community – people volunteering and people not abusing the facilities”. 

How Can You Help?

If you are local to Glastonbury you can volunteer, even if it’s just for half-hour a week, it’s fun & social and they always need volunteers.

If you grow surplus vegetables take them to the fridge

Donate surplus unopened food to the fridge (no meat, fish or homemade goods)

Follow Love Glastonbury on social media and interact with their posts, this improves their reach. 

Donate money to support Love Glastonbury:

Thank you to Karen, a regular visitor to Glastonbury, who wanted to know how she could help alleviate poverty in the town and encouraged me to write this piece. I’d like to write more about social issues in the town but these articles take a long time to research and write and nobody pays me to write them. If you’d like to support my work so I can continue to inform and entertain you on this blog and social media please see my Support Me page. 

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