December 17, 2014
Lateral thinking on food poverty
Last week saw the publication of the All Party report, Feeding Britain, which tries to square the circle of Britain being one of the wealthiest nations on earth with the fact that over 900,000 have had to rely on food banks in the last year. And all this is happening within food system so dysfunctional that 40% of all food we produce is thrown away. We could do with more of the lateral thinking currently being applied in the Yorkshire town of Goldthorpe – if not a solution to food poverty, it’s a step in the right direction.
To listen to a short feature from BBC Food Programme on the Goldthorpe Community Shop
Britain’s first “social supermarket” is offering shoppers on the verge of food poverty the chance to buy food and drink for up to 70% less than normal high-street prices.
If successful, the Community Shop, in Goldthorpe, near Barnsley, south Yorkshire, which is backed by large retailers and supermarkets, could be replicated elsewhere in Britain.
Community Shop is a subsidiary of Company Shop, Britain’s largest commercial re-distributor of surplus food and goods, which works with retailers and manufacturers to tackle their surpluses sustainably and securely.
It sells on residual products, such as those with damaged packaging or incorrect labelling, to membership-only staff shops in factories. The new project goes one step further, located in the community for the first time and also matching surplus food with social need.
Membership of the pilot store – in Goldthorpe, an area of social deprivation – will be restricted to people living in a specific local postcode area who also get welfare support.
Individuals who shop at Community Shop will not only get access to cheaper food, but will also be offered programmes of wider social and financial support, such as debt advice, cookery skills and home budgeting.
The scheme is being supported by retailers, brands and manufacturers, including Asda, Morrisons, Co-operative Food, M&S, Tesco, Mondelez, Ocado, Tetley, Young’s and Müller. All are diverting surpluses to the pilot.
Company Shop hopes to open Community Shops in London and beyond next year should the pilot prove successful and sustainable.
Sarah Dunwell, director of environment and social affairs at Company 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.
“I was delighted to help develop and deliver the UK’s first social supermarket. 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.”