‘Co-ops will help end food bank stigma’
Volunteers aim to give households a chance to pool their resources and buy in bulk from wholesalers
08 January, 2021 — By Calum Fraser
Alex Britten: ‘Food parcels and food banks shouldn’t be a long-term solution, but sadly they have become a lifeline for too many’
VOLUNTEERS have set up a “food co-operative” in a bid to find a sustainable solution to hunger.
Alex Britten and Felicity Ford ran a food delivery service from the Manor Garden’s Community Centre, off Holloway Road, after the Trussell Trust food banks in Islington closed down at the beginning of the first lockdown in March last year.
In the following months they delivered to more than 3,000 homes as demand soared due to many people losing their jobs and others being stuck indoors isolating due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Other food banks and parcel services sprung up around the borough as demand from hungry residents continued to mount.
Now the pair have launched a food co-op aimed at giving households in the borough a chance to pool their resources and buy in bulk from wholesalers.
Ms Britten said: “Food parcels and food banks shouldn’t be a long-term solution, but sadly they have become a lifeline for too many. We hope these cooperatives can provide a sustainable long-term solution to food poverty.”
Ms Britten and Ms Ford are offering some start-up funding, advice and support for those who are interested in setting up a co-op.
It is estimated that a group of more than 10 homes working together could sort out the basics for as little as £3 a week by buying in bulk from wholesalers that Ms Britten and Ms Ford can link them up with.
The Felix Project is also providing free surplus food to those involved in the project.
Ms Britten said: “The stigma around food banks is high, we get referrals at Manor Gardens where people say they will not go to a food bank, whereas a cooperative has that different appeal.”
Ms Ford added: “I think people are really looking for something sustainable, how can we help people stay above that level of destitution where they cannot afford food? We think a food co-op could be the answer.”
Since the co-op was launched at the end of last year, three groups have been set up.
The groups have to organise a place where they can get the food delivered to and then have access to personal protective equipment (PPE) to divide up the supplies.
Ms Britten and Ms Ford aim to have 400 families, or 20 co-ops, established before their funding runs out.