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
Food co-ops are run by volunteers from the community, come in all shapes and sizes and can be found in a variety of settings, – from community centres, schools, universities, church halls or workplaces. Unlike food banks, Food Co-ops are not just for people in food crises. They are open to everyone.
You can save up to £220 a year on your shopping bill in comparison to shopping in supermarkets. Bags of fruit and veg usually cost between £2 and £4 – and there are often options to buy eggs, meat, fish and bread as well.
Produce sold through food co-ops comes directly from local suppliers such as farmers, retailers or wholesalers, who select fresh fruit and vegetables according to seasonality, availability and value. Most offer a mix of fruit, vegetables and/or whole foods (rice, beans, nuts, flour, etc) and often represent an opportunity to cut down on unnecessary packaging, 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 set maintain 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.
Local food projects can also help you connect with the community. You could also consider volunteering your skills or time to a local project, or find out how to donate food. Some food clubs and co-ops also allow you to purchase food for a person in need.
For more information, check out the resources below.