What is a Social Supermarket and how is it different to a food bank?
A food bank provides emergency support in the form of a food parcel, for people who are in crisis. People do not get much choice or control about the items they receive in their food parcel, and it may not include any fresh food. Food parcels are designed to provide short-term help only.
A social supermarket (sometimes known as an Affordable Food Club) is a kind of shop which provides people with food and essentials at a large discount. People must be eligible to join a social supermarket, which usually means that they have a low disposable income available to buy food. People do NOT need to be in receipt of welfare benefits to be eligible. Memberships last for a set period, usually 6 months. Members can choose from the range of products available, which usually includes fresh food and other items such as toiletries, pet care products, or cleaning products.
It's important to remember that a social supermarket cannot carry all the items a supermarket would carry and makes no profit. All the member contributions are used to buy more stock for the supermarket, which is mainly run by volunteers.
What are the benefits of joining?
Membership of a social supermarket can be a great way of making your money stretch further. You can use it to to up your supermarket shopping if money is a bit tight, or you can use it for your main shop if you need to. It can help to prevent people reaching the point where they need a food bank. For people who have been using a food bank and are getting back on their feet, it provides a bit of extra support. Many people feel that making a contribution towards their food helps them feel more in control.
How do I join?
When you apply to become a member, you will usually need to show some proof of your income and outgoings with a bank statement. The social supermarket will check this to confirm that you are eligible to join, but they will not keep a copy. There is a small membership fee (usually about £5). Members can then buy groceries and essentials at a discount of around 75% of the retail value during their membership period.
Can I have my food delivered?
Social Supermarkets do not offer home delivery at the moment, but a friend or family member could do your weekly shop for you, as long as you tell the social supermarket that they have permission to do this for you. We also have a mobile social supermarket called the YUM bus, which has stops across Torbay, which may be easier to get to.
Do I need a referral?
You do not need a referral to a social supermarket. You can contact the social supermarket directly to ask them for more information and to apply for membership. If you have been using a food bank for a while, the food bank can make contact with the social supermarket to introduce you, you and tell them you would like to apply for a membership.