Tuesday 25th October 2016                 Change text size:

UK’s first ‘social supermarket’ opens its doors

food shelf By Kalyan Kanuri via Flickr

Britain’s first “social supermarket” opened its doors on Monday hoping to tackle food poverty, just days after a food poverty charity announced it has helped more than half a million people since April.

The Community Shop in Goldthorpe, Barnsley, let in its first customers on Monday morning, allowing shoppers to buy quality goods at around 70% the normal price. This is the first store anywhere in the UK that has membership criteria, matching those on in and out of work benefits with affordable food.

The store also has a community hub, where customers can be given advice about debt, cookery lessons and other services to help them get off the poverty line.

Sarah Dunwell, director of environmental and social affairs at Community Shop said, “With many families facing tough times in Barnsley, Company Shop wanted to do more to match surplus stock with people who really need it.   So I was delighted to join the team to help develop and deliver the UKs first social supermarket.”

She told Blue & Green Tomorrow that items with packaging faults, from retailers such as Morrisons, Marks & Spencer and Waitrose, are saved from landfill and bought by the store.

If successful, Dunwell said the pilot will be rolled out across the UK with 20 stores planned to open next year, including six in London.

She added, “Industry surplus is hard to avoid, but what Community Shop shows is that if we all work together we can make sure that surplus food delivers lasting social good.”

Food poverty charity the Trussell Trust announced last week that it has handed out emergency food parcels to more than half a million people across the UK since April, and predicts that almost half of these are working families.

Further reading:

Prince Charles praises sustainable food and calls for polluters to pay

Poorest facing ‘toughest ever winter’, says food poverty charity

Citizens Advice reports 78% increase in food bank enquiries

Why food banks are necessary in modern society

Michael Gove food bank comments ‘a smack in the face’ to struggling families

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