23 September 2017   |  Last Updated 09-01-2015 09:32

      Tuesday 16, December 2014

      Calls for social supermarkets to go nationwide

       

      WENTWORTH and Dearne MP John Healey has called for “more social supermarkets to open nationwide”.

      The localized community project from the Company Shop, which first opened in Barnsley more than a year ago, aims to provide the local residents with low-cost food.

      The UK’s first ever social supermarket opened in Goldthorpe, South Yorkshire, opened last year in a bid to tackle the food poverty crisis being faced by those on low income and those who have been sanctioned by the DWP.

      With more than 15 food banks run by the Trussell Trust alone across Greater Manchester, resident who use food banks have called for the social stores to become more common.

      Lynda Stewart, a resident of Sale, has used food banks in the past, “I’m not ashamed to say that I have used a food bank in the past. Times are really hard sometimes it can be a toss-up whether to buy food or put money in the electric meter. I think these local cheap “supermarkets” are a great idea, especially if it’s much cheaper than Tesco.”

      In the run up to Christmas, earnings are stretched ever thinner by the tough austerity measures and rising food prices. Soaring utility bills often leave even those in employment without enough money for food.

       

      Despite comments from public figures claiming that people don’t need food banks, and can’t cook – more food banks are opening every week.

      The community based social supermarkets aim to reduce the prices of branded goods often found on retailer’s shelves by up to 70%. This allows for an element of choice for shoppers, meaning that specific dietary and nutritional requirements can be met at a fraction of the price.

      Some of the items donated to Barakah Food Aid and given to families across Greater Manchester
       

      Lynda believes there is a lack of choice at food banks, “often the problem with food banks is that you get what you’re given. Which can be really demoralizing. There’s no choice in what you get, so if you’re a Muslim and they give you bacon, what are you supposed to do? I like the idea that social supermarket’s give you a choice as to what you can buy.”

      Social supermarkets are stocked with products that are rejected by supermarkets due to damage or surplus. More than 400 million tonnes of food waste goes to landfill each year in Britain alone, a spokesman for the Company Shop said, “We want to reduce food waste and help people to find a way back to financial independence and mainstream shops.”

      Barakah Food Aid in Whalley Range which aims to reduce food poverty by providing free food parcels and shopping packages to those who have been sanctioned by the DWP, and homeless people.

       

      Manzoor, who runs the Aid campaign, has said of social supermarkets, “I think that food banks shouldn’t even exist, not when we live in the 5th largest economy in the world. The welfare system needs to be invested in. I think it could be dangerous if these social supermarkets go nationwide, you could end up with some very greedy people making a lot of money from them.”

      Barakah Food Aid is run by Manzoor and his wife, and has been providing food for the homeless for over 5 years. “All of our food donations come from local people, who contact via social media.”

      “The biggest problem with this country and the reason we have food poverty is that WE are not all in it together, the elite are in it together. We deliver more than 40 food parcels worth up to £100 each to families every week. It’s like a full week’s shop.”

      By Matt Langhorn 

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