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Food cooperatives

Plymouth’s Co-operative Food Organiser Kelly started in her post in November 2022 having worked for co-ops and in the community for over 15 years.  Kelly works across Plymouth, is funded by NHS Devon, in partnership with Plymouth City Council and is employed by Four Greens Community Trust.

Kelly’s work was focused on learning from Co-operation Town who have experience of running food co-ops and setting up various different models of co-operation and spent time a lot of time initially in post researching our food provision in Plymouth and looking at different types of food co-ops that could be trialled across the city.

Within 6 months of Kelly being in post, Plymouth has three Food Co-op Clubs where members join and pay £3.50 per week for 12 items of food to help alleviate the pressure of the weekly food shop, they are based at Manadon Sports Hub, Southway Youth and Community Centre and Mayflower School. Volunteers who are members help to run our food co-ops.

Having launched the first three food co-op clubs Kelly has had some time to reflect on what’s going well and recognise the importance of the collaboration between Kelly, partners and members of her own team - the Community Builders. The Community Builders help with finding volunteers to help run the project, promotions, signing up the members, setting up the storage area the list goes on and was all completed in record time

The next trial will be food co-ops where 20 members come together in a community location (schools or churches for example) they will equally pay and spilt surplus fruit and veg supplied by Fare share, learning new skills and saving money. These should be up and running over the Summer of 2023.

Working with Plymouth University the programme will be launching a Co-op fruit and veg box where members help to split down fruit and veg again supplied by Fare Share into small boxes and pay a small fee per box.

The movement is open to everyone, and the co-ops should help in a number of ways, the most obvious being financial due to the increased food prices because of the cost-of-living crisis, but each co-op also includes education for members ranging from learning new skills to having access to a Citizens Advice drop in.

The difference here is based on members working together to make a difference for ourselves.

Collage of images showing Plymouth Co Operate Food club, person unloading van with basket of vegetables, baskets of food

Check out Kellys recent blog during Co-Op Fortnight.