A new “social supermarket” aimed at tackling food waste and poverty in Angus has now opened, after Covid-19 curtailed it from being properly launched.
Pauline Lockhart and Carol Malone from Community First have opened up S-Mart on West High Street in Forfar, selling food that is perfectly good to eat, but would otherwise have been destined for landfill.
Those going to the new supermarket will be able to buy in-date food with heavy discounts on it, and the pair are hoping this new initiative will help people who would normally have to turn to a food bank for help.
Pauline Lockhart said: “Food banks were never meant to be the norm and in actual fact, whilst they’ve been a lifeline for so many people in their time of need, they are really just a sticky plaster for bigger issues.
“First of all you have to be referred, meaning you will have had to sit down and explain your personal situation to someone, secondly you are given a big A5-sized red voucher which you have to present to the food bank and thirdly, you only get three days’ worth of ambient food and can only go three times every six months.
“So if you ever found yourself in the position where you were in need of free food, visiting a food bank can be a mortifying experience.
“While we can’t fix the bigger issues that cause food poverty, what we can do is give people access to food with dignity where no one is identified as ‘in need’ and make it a positive experience, which is exactly what the social supermarket S-Mart does.”
The food is all within date and perfectly good to sell, but would have been thrown out by supermarket standards, for example if the packaging label is on upside down.
This food is then sold on at S-Mart at a heavily discounted rate – for example, loose onions cost five pence, and potatoes and eggs cost ten pence each.
Carol Malone added: “It’s three things really – it’s about supporting our community, tackling poverty and helping the environment, all by using surplus food.
“By partnering up with organisations like Fareshare and independent food producers, redistributing perfectly good, in date food that’s not required anymore is a way of ticking all three boxes.
“What you see in our shop, in times gone by would have gone into landfill.
“The products themselves are well within date, and are really good quality, lovely brands.
“Supermarkets have certain standards, but we don’t care if the label is upside down and the customer doesn’t care either.”
On top of getting ready to open the social supermarket up, Community First also worked during the coronavirus lockdown by handing out free meals to those in need from the stock they had already gathered for their shop.
Over the course of the lockdown, the team managed to hand out over 35,000 meals to those in need in Angus.