Foodprint is a Social Supermarket and food distribution network run by volunteer students at University of Nottingham for the local community. Our food editor, Alice Nott, sat down with their Volunteer Recruitment Manager, Beth Plunkett, a second-year Economics student at University of Nottingham. Beth told her about what Foodprint is, how you can get involved and its impact for both the environment and the local community.
Why is Foodprint important and how does it make a difference?
Foodprint is very important because we tackle quite a few different issues in one go. So, we take surplus food [from supermarkets] and we do two main things with it. On one side we act as a redistribution hub to various community groups such as foodbanks, school breakfast clubs, etc., acting as a focal point for food redistribution in Nottingham. In the other sense we have our Social Supermarket, which sort of fills the gap between food banks and local supermarkets. We’re cheaper than an Aldi/Lidl but we give our customers slightly more choice over what they can buy [than a foodbank].
What difference does it make that people pay for the food in the Social Supermarket?
There’s a lot of stigma attached to food banks and [customers] just want affordable food. They’re not necessarily in a position where they can’t afford food; they can afford food just not at the sort of extortionate prices sold by some supermarkets.
We reached out to various community groups and said we were looking for volunteers and the community really came together
What difference has COVID-19 made to the running of Foodprint?
Whilst what we do is technically classed essential work because we distribute food, a lot of our volunteers were either University students who went home or people who were shielding or just didn’t feel comfortable putting themselves at risk. However, we had a really positive response from the community. We reached out to various community groups and said we were looking for volunteers and the community really came together. We’ve had some really amazing people join our team in the last four months and we could not have done without them.
What do volunteers do at Foodprint?
The main role is just working in our shop when we’re open. Our volunteers are the face of the shop and spend a lot of time supporting and interacting with our customers. Other responsibilities include using the cash drawer, doing cleaning tasks, food quality checks and making sure that everything we are selling is still cool to be consumed, alongside serving our amazing customers.
Volunteers will be integral to our redistribution network
Especially during COVID-19 there is a lot of cleaning jobs that need doing. We are also an age friendly shop, so we have a lot of customers come in and just sit down and chat to us.
Then on the other side, volunteers will be integral to our redistribution network. So, we have what we call stock-based shifts, which is helping us with our deliveries and putting things on the shelves. We also need people there when our partners come to collect their food, ensuring they get what they need and know what’s going to be helpful for the people that they work with.
We also have volunteer van drivers, people who drive to the supermarket to collect the surplus food, and hopefully soon we will also have a mobile supermarket that will need people to run it!
If you want to volunteer, you can go on our website and fill out a volunteer application form. Our website is www.foodprint.io/volunteering/. If you go on our Facebook we have job adverts which have a link to the application form or if you have any questions please email email@example.com
Can people still help if they’re unable to volunteer?
Of course! We take two types of donations: directly to us as an organisation and then we also have what we call a ‘pay it forward’ scheme. This means people who can’t afford their shop can either have a part or the whole transaction paid by the ‘pay it forward scheme’.
Foodprint is unique in many ways but as a community project run by the students at University of Nottingham it connects us with the local community, something that is often missing from student life. I hope this interview gives you some insight into the way you can get involved making food go further.
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