Middlesbrough Council are set to support a unique food store where struggling local families from any background can have a food shop for just £3.
The store is the brainchild of Christian charity The Message Trust based in Manchester who launched its first community food project in the city during the pandemic.
Visitors to the store at a building in grounds next to St Barnabas church in Linthorpe won’t have to show proof of benefits in order to use the facility, and organisers say no-one will be turned away.
But it’s not just about providing food assistance, as the shop will also include access to courses on healthy cooking, debt management, IT training and exploring Christianity. Individuals don’t have to attend the church and it doesn’t matter what religious beliefs they may have.
Danielle Campsall, the chief administrative officer at The Message Trust, said: “We always partner with a local church and always plan in an area of deprivation.
“We now have 11 stores and more than 10,000 members, each representing a family.
“We obviously want people to be fed and we know people are struggling because of the impact of covid, but we also recognise that there is often a bigger need.
“We have a pay it forward system, so we never turn anyone away. If somebody comes and they can’t afford membership or a shop that week then people pay it forward all of the time.
“Some of our members, who are having a better week will pay an extra £5 for someone else to become a member or an extra £3 for someone to have a free shop. We have other people who aren’t members coming into the shop to pay it forward too.
“The notes will say, ‘keep going’, ‘we’ll get there’, or ‘we are in this together’. If someone is really struggling they can take a post-it note to pay with and it’s not a big deal.”
The charity also say Community Groceries are all about bridging the gap between supermarkets and foodbanks. Using surplus food fresh from local supermarkets, their groceries make the cost of the weekly shop more affordable. Members can come and shop for just £3 – saving up to £40 per shop – getting all the food they need for their family. They already have three such stores in the region in Hexham, Ragworth and Redcar.
One of the conditions of the council’s support is the store can only open between 9.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Saturday and must close on Sundays and Bank Holidays.
Deliveries can only take place between 8am to 6pm Monday to Saturday.