Community Shop, a social supermarket in the UK, has been open for nearly a year and has consistently demonstrated its ability to empower community members, reduce food waste and measure the impact of its concerted efforts.
Empowering the Community
Many people are aware of a growing problem in society – our food waste habits. In the EU, close to 50% of food is wasted through production, distribution and consumption in homes. At the same time, an increasing population often goes hungry or struggles to secure food at reasonable prices. Community Shop, a social enterprise initiative in the UK, establishes community hubs in distressed areas to feed and empower its members.
To become a member, an individual must receive some form of Government support, reside in a deprived area and display a strong motivation to improve their life. Yet while surplus groceries at 1/3 of the price entice individuals to visit the hubs, it is the power of human connection which keeps them engaged.
The Circular Economy
By sustaining a consistent flow of members, Community Shop has created a Circular Economy model that could be a solution for reducing environmental food waste. Individuals who come into the hub receive the added benefit of peer mentoring and support, which then empowers them to pay it forward and help others. Furthermore, this model creates a forum to effectively educate communities about food waste and encourage zero waste lifestyles.
Closing the Impact Loop
A great challenge for social enterprises is how to measure impact. Community Shop has established a solid model for how to overcome this challenge – through storytelling. A visit to the testimonials section of their website reveals wonderful success stories that clearly define the impact that Community Shop has made and will continue to do so.
About the author
Aaron Cohen is a Social Entrepreneur who recently relocated to Leipzig to pursue an International Master’s degree in Sustainable Development. He is primarily focused on a research initiative to reduce food waste and solve the UN imperative of ending hunger. Prior to his current research, Aaron led or consulted on three entrepreneurial endeavours and also lived abroad in China as an English teacher. He is passionate about playing guitar, learning about nutrition and researching everything about Social Innovation.