Colleagues at a new co-operative store are hoping to make an immediate difference to their local community by donating £500 worth of goods to a local food bank.
Horsham District Foodbank has already fed more people in the last five months compared to the whole of the last financial year – 3,200+ since April compared to 2,900 in 2019-20.
With The Co-operative Food – Broadbridge Heath opening on Wednesday 9 September, colleagues contacted the foodbank to find out how they could help.
A delivery of £500 worth of goods is now on its way to the foodbank before being made into essential food parcels for families in the district.
Kathryn McCarthy, community support lead at Horsham Matters which runs the Trussell Trust Foodbanks in Horsham District, said: “When lockdown began in March, we immediately saw an increase in demand for our service. We were already a very busy foodbank, having seen a 55% increase in demand the year before.
“We are helping people who, due to the pandemic, have recently lost their jobs or had a reduction in income and have never used the foodbank before. This is in addition to those people who are having to wait for Universal Credit payments, or are on benefits and just can’t make ends meet. Plus, during the school summer holidays, we have been delivering weekly food parcels to an extra 70 families who usually rely on free school meals.
“We are normally very fortunate and our community donations usually meet the demand but since April there have been a couple of occasions where we have had to purchase food. So this donation will be a real boost to our work.”
The new store, which is part of Southern Co-op – the regional, independent co-operative, will include a permanent foodbank drop off point where customers can continue to make donations to help local residents via Horsham District Foodbank.
Phil Craven, store manager at the store in Wickhurst Square, Sargent Way, said: “During the pandemic I have been working at one of our sister stores so have seen the affect it has had on the community and colleagues.
“So it feels significant that we’ve been able to offer 17 local residents new jobs in the store and also help out families in need via the foodbank.
“We have been busy getting everything ready in store, including new COVID-19 measures, and can’t wait to start welcoming new faces over the next few weeks.”
As part of Southern Co-op’s commitment to reduce its carbon footprint, the store has been fitted with a range of energy saving technology including energy efficient LED lighting throughout, Ecoblades refrigeration technology, chiller doors, and a Building Management System which switches items on and off in an automated remote way such as ovens, fridges and lighting.
The Co-operative Food – Broadbridge Heath will be open everyday from 7am to 10pm and include an in store bakery, takeaway coffee facilities, self-service checkouts and Amazon Lockers.
The 2,830sq ft store will also stock the Local Flavours range celebrating local food and drink producers including Chichester Biltong, Popcorn Kitchen, Lorama cakes/traybakes, Kent Crisps, Farmhouse Cookery Pavlova dollops, Montezumas chocolate, Hepworth Brewery ale, Bangers Galore sausages, Curd and Cure cheese and meats, Ellies Goats Cheese, Mud pies and Cook frozen food.
The £500 donation of goods is part of Southern Co-op’s ‘Love Your Neighbourhood’ programme which aims to create greener, safer, healthier or more inclusive neighbourhoods.