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A community food retail project is a not-for-profit, charity or social enterprise initiative rooted within a local community, with a strong social mission to tackle food related issues. These can include Community Fridges, Pantries, Buying Clubs and Co-ops

More and more communities are setting up food co-ops. They put power back into communities’ hands, enabling people to access good food at affordable prices, whilst having more control over where their food comes from. Primarily, they purchase and redistribute good food affordably, and strengthen our community connections in the process.

Food co-ops come in all shapes and sizes and can be found in a variety of settings, – from community centres, schools, universities, church halls or workplaces. The key to a successful food co-op is providing high quality produce at an affordable price.

Most food co-ops sell fruit, vegetables and/or whole foods (rice, beans, nuts, flour, etc) and often represent an opportunity to cut down on unnecessary packaging and shop in a more eco-friendly way, as well as a chance to improve access to affordable food.

Similarly, Food Clubs provide a way for people to access good quality food, taking excess food from retailers which may have been wasted and making it available at low cost to local club members. Cardiff now has several community Pantries which operate to share fresh, frozen food and store cupboard staples where, for example, members can pick a basket of food worth around £20 for just £5 week. Some also offer access to household goods and toiletries.

Community Fridges are open to anyone who wants to share food that they are not going to use – which can be taken by anyone who needs it. They maintain the highest food hygiene standards so there are some rules around what can and can’t be donated, but the Community Fridge network rescues good quality food from retailers, producers, growers, restaurants and households. They are redistributing food, cutting waste and helping the community to share skills through volunteering.

If you are interested in setting up a food co-operative or other community food project, check out the resources below.