Cardiff arts centre struggling to keep up with demand for free food

An arts centre in Canton has said it is struggling to keep up with the demand for stock in their community larder as shelves are “practically empty” two days after filling it up.

Bob Gelsthorpe, Head of Communication and Marketing at Chapter Arts Centre, said stock in the larder goes “very quickly” and they even receive special requests for items such as nappies and toiletries.

The Chapter Arts Centre opened their community larder in November last year following a significant increase in costs to food and basic amenities. Chapter felt there was a need to help the local community after a huge oversubscription was seen in their free school lunches for children scheme over the half term.

The donations given to the larder are largely paid for by the Arts Centre using the money they receive from sales such as drinks in their Caffi Bar. They also rely on the generosity of the members who regularly attend Chapter.

Chapter Arts Centre supports people further out than just Canton, with people even in Cardiff Bay receiving help. For this reason, they considered research done by The Bevan Foundation which showed more than one in eight Welsh households sometimes or often struggle to afford everyday items.

Bob said the rise in food poverty across South Wales and the cost-of-living crisis are “inextricably linked” and it’s “impossible to take the two away from each other”.

Bob also thinks more can be done to help people in need such as the creation of a central hub for sharing information more widely in order to reach more people, saying “the hardest thing isn’t making these things accessible, it’s being able to get them to the people who need them the most.”