Derbyshire County council yesterday announced £300,000 was to be given to the county’s Rural Action plan to help set up twelve community shops in its most deprived areas.
Areas in Shirebrook, Bolsover, and Holmewood have already been selected for the scheme, although Derbyshire County Council said the ambition is to have one in every district and borough.
These shops will be part of a countywide ‘affordable food network’ plan which is expected to be self-sustaining within two years.
Cabinet Member for health and communities Councillor Carol Hart said the new initiative would “provide a stepping stone out of crisis” by creating a longer term and more sustainable alternative to food banks.
Councillor Hart said: “Many people have had to turn to food banks to help them get through some very difficult times, even more so since the coronavirus pandemic hit.
“By supporting the creation of an affordable food network in communities we’ll be able to help people struggling with low incomes and debt to access affordable, nutritious food and offer an alternative to food banks.”
Feeding Derbyshire is a countywide partnership who aim to help find sustainable solutions to feeding the most deprived.
Led by Rural Action Derbyshire (RAD), Feeding Derbyshire runs a network of more than 30 food banks operating across 41 locations.
They also support the work of community cafés and school holiday clubs, including breakfast and after-school clubs and across Derbyshire.
Beverley Parker, CEO of Rural Action Derbyshire, said: “We are thrilled to have the continued support of the county council. Even before the pandemic some families and individuals on low incomes struggled to afford to put food on the table, not just occasionally but regularly.
“By developing community pantries and shops we can make affordable food available to those who need it most.”
The initiative is expected to grow to twelve outlets within two years.
Councillor Hart concluded: “The work of Feeding Derbyshire is helping support many of the county’s most vulnerable people but we need longer-term solutions to food insecurity.
“Funding the creation of community shops and pantries is very much a step in the right direction.”