Boris announces social supermarket cash

The Mayor of London has announced £300,000 of funding for “social supermarkets” that reduce food waste by selling stock at low prices to people on low incomes and struggling with food poverty.

The food is in-date and wholesome and would otherwise be thrown away by big retailers for a variety of reasons, including items packaged and weighed incorrectly and over-production.

London boroughs can apply for a share of the fund to help set up pilot supermarkets which help families on lower incomes and offer a range of supportive community services. The new shops will receive funding from the Mayor’s High Street Fund.

The announcement came as the Mayor visited London’s first social supermarket, Community Shop in West Norwood, Lambeth. The shop’s customers can buy a range of discounted fresh and packaged food for approximately one–third of the retail cost. The shop has a ‘Community Hub’, where a range of local partners provide mentoring, budgeting and debt advice, job training and cookery classes. To be eligible to join the shop customers have to be on lower incomes and live locally. The shop uses any excess stock as ingredients in its in-house community café.

Community Shop reduces food waste by selling residual stock that would be thrown away by major retailers. In the UK, 4.1 million tonnes of food is wasted in the grocery retail supply chain each year. Residual food is safe, in-date and edible but not used by major retailers for a variety of reasons, such as faulty packaging and over-ordering.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “I want to see more innovative schemes on our high streets that tackle food waste, help communities and offer access to a variety of good standard cheaper food. Community Shop’s range of training and skills services make it a hugely positive resource. My funding will help boroughs kick start similar ‘social supermarket’ ventures that can really help local people on tight budgets. I’m also immensely proud that small cafes and restaurants have managed to stop 1,000 tonnes of food being wasted by strategically diverting their surplus stock with help from my FoodSave scheme. It’s important we continue to reduce London’s landfill and ensure quality edible food is not discarded.”

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