Social Supermarkets

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Rebecca Roberts:

"Social supermarkets are a newer, recently emerged business model reflective of the impacts of recent ‘austerity England’ or food-stamp cuts in the US. This model aims to tackle the chronic issue of food poverty in developed nations. Rather than treating people as victims of food poverty and giving out free food via food banks, social supermarkets sell products like a normal supermarket. You have a choice, you buy food, and you are treated like a customer.

However, the Social Supermarket offers shoppers on the verge of food poverty, the chance to buy food, drink and toiletries for 70% less than normal high-street prices. It sells residual products that aren’t sold to supermarkets because of damage or surplus.

Not only is the Social Supermarket accessible to economically marginalised communities, but it is a community in itself. Only members can use the shop – and membership is only open to people on benefits, or living on one of the fifty eligible roads chosen by the supermarket. The first opened in France in the late 1980s, and now there are over 800 ‘epiceries sociales‘ in the country. The model has spread through numerous other European countries in response to the economic situations that many people currently find themselves in. Britain’s first social supermarket, in Goldthorpe, Yorkshire,opened in December 2013, sparking interest in both the UK and the US. It also encourages members to purchase fresh produce rather than processed foods, and is currently setting up a cafe and workspace to teach people how to cook fresh produce." (

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