The U.K. opened its first “social supermarket” in December. South Yorkshire’s Community Shop combines social services with a discount grocery store by offering heavily discounted groceries as well as classes on cooking, budgeting, and job skills. The obvious benefit is that less usable food goes into landfills and more food goes to the people who need it. However, social supermarkets’ real strength is in its ability to shift control and dignity back to the individual. More from NPR:
Part discount grocer, part social service agency, the supermarkets are for members only. Membership is free, but it is limited to those who can prove they receive some form of welfare benefits. Members can save up to 70 percent on food that has been rejected by grocers because it might be mislabeled, have damaged packaging or be nearing an expiration date. That food is still edible, though, so instead of getting thrown away, it’s donated with a waiver of liability.