A cross between a foodbank and a supermarket – it’s Community Grocery
Wayne Clarke for Konnect Radio
When you go into a Community Grocery it looks like a smart, contemporary farm shop. You’ll see fresh and packaged food and some household items. But these shops are different. Community Grocery is a new initiative from The Message Trust to meet the needs of pandemic Britain in the name of Jesus.
Sam Ward from Manchester-based The Message Trust told Wayne Clarke for Konnect Radio that it was a partnership with local churches “to enable those facing poverty, who need an extra helping hand, to be able to afford to pay for food. They are genuine shops but with very affordable food”.
Unlike food banks, which offer emergency response, when families become members of Community Grocery, they can go back each week and they can choose the food they want to buy. Sam says that this gives people dignity and not just a hand-out.
Community Grocery is also a gateway into other forms of support that people may need to move out of poverty – support such as job clubs, debt advice and mental health services. It also creates its own sense of belonging, as Community Grocery shops become centres for meeting and ministering to people.
The food at Community Grocery comes from surplus supplies, sourced from supermarkets and their suppliers, but it’s always fresh and safe. Sam Ward says it’s important that they work hard at getting the best fresh supplies. He says, “I have a problem with the fact that the poorest in our nation only get the left-overs. Wherever possible we get fresh meat, fresh milk, eggs and particularly vegetables, the best possible produce we can find”.
At present there are nine Community Grocery outlets across the UK, but the aim is to grow more, reaching forty communities by the end of 2022, and then more beyond that. If churches would like to get involved, or you know any food suppliers who could back the project, start at the website https://communitygrocery.org.uk/