Frequently asked questions

Membership eligibility

I’m struggling with food bills, but don’t receive council tax benefits. Can I join?

We’d love to be able to help everyone. But we have restricted membership capacity, and stock, so we have to limit the number of people we can serve.

We have identified alternative sources of support, through charities and food banks, helping various groups of people in need.

Is it degrading to means-test people to shop at these stores?

Far from it. Community Shop empowers people on the cusp of food poverty, to shop independently, retaining choice and dignity.

Community Shop gives a hand up, not a hand out. We offer a low cost option for people who need a bridge back to financial independence.

But what happens after emergency support?

We know people on low incomes, but in work and receiving benefits, are having a really tough time. Community Shop is for them.

Surplus food

What happens to surplus food when it occurs at your end?

At every stage of the process, Company Shop has plans in place to stop food waste occurring. For example, when food reaches the very end of its shelf life – but is still in date – Company Shop may donate food to charity.

Should any unavoidable waste occur, it will be offered as animal feed to local farmers where possible. A tiny fraction may go to anaerobic digestion. No food goes to landfill.

Community Shop as a social enterprise

How much money does Company Shop predict it will make from this initiative if it is successful?

Community Shop is a social enterprise. That means we’re not about shareholders making a profit. Instead, any profit is ploughed back into the organisation, making it self-sufficient and sustainable – and meaning we can increase the number of shops.

The key motivation for this project is to bring good food to people that need it most. That can only work if we are able to invest in infrastructure, transportation and more stores.

Results so far

How do you measure success?

Every member has a different criteria for success, based upon their background and motivation.

When they join us, they take on a very personal and bespoke journey. But getting to know our members, and making sure we know how life is for them – both past and present – is important to us.

Read our success stories page for more details

Implementation / roll-out plans

Why set up something separate from Company Shop? Why not just expand that, which is already operating?

Because Company Shop is different. Company Shop stores are for the food manufacturing sector, on industrial sites.

Community Shop is exactly as the name suggests; stores in the heart of communities, helping those communities.

How and when will you be rolling out Community Shop nationwide?

We have the capability to offer 20 stores, supporting up to 10,000 members and providing 20 million meals to the people that need them most across the UK.

Our stores will be located in hotspots of deprivation where we believe we can maximise our social impact. We would encourage anyone who believes they could offer us a suitable retail site – whether that be in London or across the UK - to come forward and speak to us.