A community social supermarket ‘Plenty 2 Cook’ based in Coalville has grown tremendously since it began in Leicestershire just two years ago.
Launched in 2021 with the help and support of family business and total supply chains solutions provider Oakland International, the Marlene Reid Centre’s (MRC) ‘Plenty 2 Cook’ project has grown from an initial single collection to four collections per week from Oakland’s Bardon facility.
MRC Community Action’s Paul Fagan commented: “Oakland’s donations are fabulous, with the food variety enabling us to educate and broaden our customers pallets. Their support has allowed us to increase our offering alongside the volume we receive from other project partners.
“All our team are keen home cooks and love sharing recipes and ideas, with the food donated providing great diversity and a chance to be creative and share with those we support.”
Having taken the first step in B Corp certification and working to become the first business within their sector to achieve net-zero, Oakland International operates 24-hours/7 days a week and is a retail, food service and direct to consumer specialist in contract packing, storage, picking, food distribution and a brand development support provider for ambient, chilled, and frozen food to the retail, convenience, discount, wholesale and food service markets in the UK and Ireland.
Oakland International Chief Operating Officer Lee Whiting commented: “Oakland’s team works very closely with MRC and supports other local charities by donating a range of items from food through to fridges.
“We will always support whenever possible, with our team members happy to assist and offer MRC their time for free at the weekends to help distribute much needed food.”
Increased food donation volumes enabled MRC to also make significant changes to their emergency foodbank provision, which runs in parallel to the ‘Plenty 2 Cook’ social supermarket and offers those in desperate need a cash equivalent voucher so that they can select their own food.
Having successfully held a ‘Plenty 2 Cook’ GO pilot in Measham, an area identified by MRC public health partners as being a food poverty hot spot, their plans are to broaden this service to other areas classified as in need.
Said Paul: “Each week we’re now serving over 400 customers and helping save in excess of 2,500kgs of good food from going to waste in landfill, so not bad going!
“The fact that we can tell our paying customers that they are directly supporting those less fortunate than themselves is a very powerful message in the cost-of-living crisis. Sales from the ‘Plenty 2 Cook’ social supermarket is also supporting us achieve our financial goals whilst supporting the community and we are now looking at capital projects for next year, with the financial security ‘Plenty 2 Cook’ provides making these aims achievable.”
Other MRC initiatives include January’s ‘SKINT Week’ which offered free evening meals to drive positive community interaction and an opportunity to enjoy community eating with all its social benefits, with the community atmosphere a real success and something MRC are looking to replicate in the future.
Paul added: “Serving over 180 meals during the week we are incredibly grateful to all our guests, chefs and helpers from Ukraine, Thailand, Scotland and beyond!”
Delivering their “Kool Kidz” holiday club during February half term with funding from children’s charity Oakland Foundation, MRC are now looking forward to developing their non-food retail operation.