6 December 2018
Anson Community Shop is a project in Manchester that gives local people the chance to buy affordable healthy food. It’s a lifeline for families and individuals on low or no incomes, for whom fresh fruit and vegetables have become a luxury, instead of an everyday item. Project members pay just £2.50 for a basket of good quality surplus food for the week.
The shop receives around 75 per cent of its ‘stock’ from FareShare, which, as well as fresh fruit and veg, includes meat, fish, cheese and store cupboard essentials. It’s run entirely by volunteers from the community it serves – who, in turn, gain valuable retail experience. The shop has 150 regular members, with 88 per cent of them saying it’s helped them to eat better, and 96 per cent saying it’s helped them to meet new people.
Anson Community Shop volunteer Sammy Minshull, said: “More and more people are struggling to pay their bills and get food on the table but there can be a stigma attached to foodbanks. With the shop, everybody pays the same membership fee and they can get all kinds of bakery items, toiletries and fresh fruit and veg. They’re queuing out of the doors because everybody loves it. And if someone can’t make it to the shop, we can drop food off for them.”
More and more people are struggling to pay their bills and get food on the table but there can be a stigma attached to foodbanks. With the shop, everybody pays the same membership fee and they can get all kinds of bakery items, toiletries and fresh fruit and veg.
The project is run by Healthy Me Healthy Communities. Their chief executive, Rich Browning, said: “It’s the variety of food that helps to build up the membership. Once we’ve got people out of food poverty we’re then able to signpost them to new opportunities, for example training and volunteering — addressing the deep-rooted reasons why people experience food poverty in the first place.
“Our members are a mix of local families and older people. Many of our older members live by themselves, and can become very isolated. The shop is a social space, they stay for a cup of tea and a chat.”
Christmas can be a particularly difficult time for families in food poverty. Rich says: “During the colder months hot vegetables soups are very popular. We’re also holding a Christmas event, where families can pick up extra food for Christmas, with a raffle and hampers too.”
“We see a lot of struggling families. One local resident told me that, to make sure her kids had enough to eat, she’d only eat toast all weekend. The food she gets from the Community Shop makes such a difference to families like hers.”