New Goldthorpe shop hopes to halt food poverty

Community Shop, in Goldthorpe, near Barnsley, sells surplus goods that cannot be sold in supermarkets.

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A shop described as Britain's "first" social supermarket has opened in South Yorkshire, selling low-cost food to people facing food poverty.

Community Shop, in Goldthorpe, near Barnsley, will sell surplus goods that cannot be sold in supermarkets.

Shoppers will have to have membership cards, which are being issued to 500 families below a certain income level.

Company Shop, the business behind the venture, says if the pilot succeeds 20 more stores could open next year.

The food sold at Community Shop comes from surpluses arising from packaging faults, overstocking and seasonal produce, project leader Sarah Dunwell said.

"All of this is wholesome, it's in date, it's fit for purpose, but for some reason was not going to make it on to the shelves of a supermarket," she said.

"We think that's wrong. We think that people who are really struggling to stretch their household budget should be able to access this food."

Extra help

Community Shop will also offer a range of support services to its members.

Ms Dunwell said: "We think that having access to cheap food is fantastic, but it does not change anybody's life.

"What you need to do is while you are accessing that food get a whole package of support services.

"So, we've got things from debt advice to a cookery school, addiction support counselling, all sorts of things that will really help move people on."

Company Shop, based in Tankersley, has been running staff shops for employees at manufacturing sites since 1985.

Similar enterprises have been trialled in Europe.

The shop in Goldthorpe has won the backing of major food retailers such as Asda, Morrisons, Tesco, The Co-operative Group and Ocado.

Steve Houghton, leader of Barnsley Council, said: "The new store will be a great asset for local residents enabling them to access a range of high-quality low-cost food as well as a place where they can access local services."

Lawrence Hene, director of retail and marketing at Ocado, said: "We're thrilled to support the launch of the UK's first ever social supermarket."

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