Food clubs go by many names such as food pantries, social supermarkets and community grocers. What they have in common is a membership scheme by which people pay a small amount and are able to choose from a wide range of foods of a much greater value. You can read more about them, and other forms of community food retail, in Food Power’s briefing. The Greater Manchester Food Poverty Action Plan calls for more food clubs to be established across Greater Manchester, and we are pleased to share success stories and good practice such as the Miles Platting Community Grocer.
“I think the stigma around people going to a community grocer is still there. In fact, I know it is and a lot of people wouldn’t go. I’ve told everybody about this place and how amazing it is. When you walk through the door no one stares at you; it’s welcoming and friendly.” says member Debbie
The Community Grocer has taken root in Miles Platting since it opened in 2017 with investment from Adactus Housing, with a team of local dedicated local residents who wanted to help others, improve themselves and make Miles Platting a better place to live. The grocer is more than just a shop, it has empowered residents to get involved in other activities such as cooking courses with a focus on healthy eating, encouraging people to get creative and to experiment with food. It’s a place that brings the community together, where people can catch up over a cup of tea or get stuck in and volunteer. It also has its own Savers group set up and run by the Community Grocer volunteers who help each other to save money.
“Miles Platting Community Grocer was set up not only to address food poverty, but to help people make friends, connect people into activities, training, volunteering and partner services.” Rich Browning, Chief Executive, Healthy Me Healthy Communities
“I started coming on one particular week when I was really strapped for cash for buying food. The bills had come in and my wage was low because I’d been off sick. So, I went and signed up as a member and did my shop. Just that little bit gets you through that week. I’ve been coming here for three months and from my weekly trip I have a fully stocked cupboard of essentials, whether that be pasta, rice, beans, tins of soup and veg which you can always make something of. You always get a potato and fresh fruit which is good and it’s healthy.” Niall
Miles Platting has had a large amount of change over the last few years, it has seen new residents come into the area, new houses being built, but also a change in local amenities. The Community Grocer provides an essential space for the community to meet, bringing people together and giving local people an opportunity to access projects, training and advice. The grocer has been supported by the Adactus Housing Association enabling the volunteers to provide this essential community-run project.
“I enjoyed the opportunity to participate, via the social group created by our Community Grocers. It was a good way to pool experiences and learn about aspects of our area, from the last days of its industrial past up to the rapidly changing present. Mapping the results means that this history has been formally recorded for current and future interest, rather than being lost.” Eric
The Community Grocers, part of Healthy Me Healthy Communities working in partnership with neighbourhood groups, residents and services, are a network of food projects across Manchester improving access to healthy food options, volunteering, training and improving access to existing services. The grocers also provide opportunities for local residents to get involved in different community projects. Funded by The Lottery and with investment from MHCC and GMMH Trust, they are soon to open a new community food centre and new food projects.
For more information please visit Healthy Me Healthy Communities website