Hunger inquiry praises Goldthorpe social supermarket

A report into the causes of hunger has recommended more social supermarkets like the first – and still the only one – in the country in Goldthorpe, South Yorkshire.

The report by the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger gained national headlines when it was published on Monday.

Now MP John Healey has written to the Work and Pensions Secretary urging the Government to back more social supermarkets in South Yorkshire, and in other parts of the country.

Evidence for the inquiry was gathered during a visit to social enterprise Community Shop in Goldthorpe last month, when chair Frank Field MP joined local MP John Healey in meeting managing director Mark Game.

Mr Field said after the visit: “It’s a marvellous example of meeting people’s immediate need to gain decent food, raising their resilience and, for many, finding jobs.”

Mr Healey, a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger, spoke to his colleague about Goldthorpe before the inquiry was launched.

The Dearne MP said: “Community Shop in Goldthorpe is leading the way in helping tackle food poverty and the four million tonnes of surplus food we waste by sending to landfill every year.

“I want to see what has been done first in the Dearne go nationwide.”

The hunger inquiry considered the reasons behind the large rise in the use of food banks over the last few years.

The report, titled ‘Feeding Britain’, said the UK had seen the biggest increases in housing, fuel and food costs out of all Western economies – and wages had not kept up. Up to one in four people relying on food banks are in low paid work.

But benefit-related issues – delays, sanctions and “avoidable” administrative problems – was the biggest reason for people turning to food banks.

The inquiry concluded the country should be ‘Zero Hunger’, with everybody having the resources, abilities and facilities to buy, prepare and cook fresh, health and affordable food.

‘Feeding Britain’ presents a plan for ensuring low-income households can afford and have access to decent food and eventually reverse the rising demand for food banks. It would begin with 12 pilot projects in each region drawing together private, voluntary and public expertise to eliminate hunger.

The report says: “We would also encourage the development of the social supermarket model currently being pioneered in South Yorkshire.”

At Community Shop – set up in December 2013 – 500 people on low incomes can buy heavily discounted food gathered from manufacturers’ surplus produce. Members are also given help with debt problems, budgeting and the skills required for work.

The inquiry recommended identifying areas of the country in which social supermarkets could make a difference to people’s lives, and help local councils roll out the model.