Rochdale’s ‘pop-in’ shop co-op tackles food poverty

Rochdale Pioneers Museum launches initiative after 18 months developing a sustainable way to provide affordable food

A new co-operative ‘pop-in’ shop has been launched at the Rochdale Pioneers Museum, offering food and other essentials to local people living in poverty.

The Pioneer Pantry is open on Friday afternoons and stocks a range of store cupboard essentials, along with fresh products and toiletries.

It’s the result of 18 months’ work by the museum, local agencies and communities to develop a sustainable model for affordable food.

The shop was launched at an event attended by representatives from organisations across the Rochdale borough, including Link4Life, Rochdale and District MindRochdale Borough Council and Councillor Janet Emsley.

Run by volunteers, the Pioneer Pantry is a member-owned co-op where local people in need can pay £1 to join and take home a bag of food per week, paying what they can afford in subsequent weeks. This is supplemented by once-monthly Friday night dinners when cooked meals are offered to families in living in poverty.

A colour-coded system allows fair distribution of the donated food and other items  and the shop will also stock free sanitary packs, provided by charity The Crimson Wave.

Being member-owned puts users at the core of decision making for how any profits will be spent. And from April, the group will be investing the first profits into a small plot of land to grow their own vegetables. They also hope to go on to provide cookery demonstrations.

The Pioneer Pantry is open on Fridays between 12 noon and 3pm.