London's first 'social supermarket' turns food waste into job training

community shop london photo
Video screen capture Company Shop

Whether it is selling ugly produce to turning out-of-date food into electricity, we’ve seen plenty of ways that supermarkets can cut back on the mountains of food waste they throw out each year.

A new “social supermarket” in London is taking a different and entirely logical angle: turning food waste into affordable food. And job training and life skills too.

Community Shops are a social enterprise model that utilizes food that supermarkets can’t use—often because of short shelf-life or minor labeling errors—and sells them in a typical retail environment, but specifically on a membership-only basis to individuals who are on unemployment benefits or other forms of public assistance.

Prices are up to 70 percent below typical retail prices, and members are also enrolled free of charge in a broader range of support services—including resume writing workshops, cooking classes, budgeting workshops and career training.

In an effort to ensure both focused support, and to avoid a detrimental impact on surrounding retail stores, membership is limited to 750 individuals at any one time—and membership is reviewed by Community Shop staff twice yearly.

The model has garnered significant media attention, not to mention the support of London’s Conservative mayor Boris Johnson. In fact, Johnson has pledged his support by opening a fund to create many more Community Shops across the capital.

And here's a video from the original Community Shop in Barnsley, in the North of England.

Tags: Poverty | Waste


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