Social supermarket still serving Coventry despite Coronavirus outbreak

Feeding Coventry
Research news

Thursday 30 April 2020

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A social supermarket selling cut-price food has had a challenging first month of operations as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak but is still providing a crucial service to the city.

The store, which sells a shopping bag of food for just £4, was opened by the charity Feeding Coventry in Foleshill Community Centre just 10 days before the lockdown was enforced on March 23

Dr Lopa Saxena, a researcher at Coventry University, is an expert on how social supermarkets work and is also a trustee of Feeding Coventry.

She helped advise on the set-up of the project, and Coventry University also donated high quality kitchen equipment to kit out a cafe on the site.

Whilst the café has not been able to open, the social supermarket has been quickly adapting to ensure its vital services are available for those who need them most at this difficult time.

The first day it opened they served five people, which has quickly jumped up to around 50 customers a day, who have all been referred to the supermarket from organisations and charities across the city.

Food comes from donations by supermarkets and charity FareShare, which redistributes surplus food to foodbanks, charities and community groups across the United Kingdom with the aim of reducing food waste and redistributing it to where it’s most needed.

The staff at Foleshill Community Centre and the volunteers have continued to work hard and it would have shut down were it not for them.

A social supermarket relies on people coming in and selecting their food which has been a challenge.

People have to wait outside and staff then collect items they want and hand over the shopping bag.

While we are able to supply food, we haven’t been able to offer the wraparound support and other community activities to people which we would have liked to due to social distancing

Dr Lopa Saxena, researcher at Coventry University

Dr Saxena’s research has focused on how social supermarkets operate in England, which project manager Helen Needham says has been vital to the new Coventry Social Supermarket.

She added: “The Trustees have been amazing and drawing on their expertise has been invaluable.”

The social supermarket is open on Fridays and Saturdays from 10am until 12pm and people who join up as members can go down and fill a shopping bag for £4, while maintaining social distancing guidelines.

Feeding Coventry is also looking at starting a delivery service to help their most vulnerable shoppers.