There are a significant number of individuals and families in North Ayrshire suffering food poverty but who do not qualify for an emergency food box. These individuals have a chronic situation for which the three-day intervention provided through our food bank is insufficient.
What is needed is a source of food at a level affordable by their household incomes. In recognition of this fact North Ayrshire Foodbanks secured a small grant through the Big Lotteries Investing in Ideas fund with which we produced a business plan around the concept of a community supermarket.
Additional funding from North Ayrshire Council and Our Place 2 Ardrossan has allowed this idea to be developed further. We formed a working group to look for a similar type of approach elsewhere which we could study but could not find an example within the UK. However, in June of this year we visited the WeFood Project in Denmark which is part of the Dan Church Aid—Denmark’s largest NGO.
Dan Church Aid has experience of operating over 120 charity shops across Denmark. Their move into food retailing was principally driven by a desire to reduce the scale of food waste, environmental concerns, and raising funds for their international respite work.
They recognised that there was a food waste issue and saw the resolution as mutually beneficial to national and local businesses as well as communities across the world where they operate. The concept of taking surplus food and selling it to raise funds has been endorsed by the Danish Royal Family, the Danish Government, businesses, and individuals with an environmental interest. Due to the relative wealth of Danish citizens, the need to feed local people is not as big an issue as it is in Scotland.
Dan Church Aid’s long established involvement in international aid has seen this partnership come together and uses a process for obtaining low-cost food which matches our ambitions for North Ayrshire.
We have produced a report on our findings following the visit to Denmark which can be found here.