How affordable food works

We run the Fairbite Affordable Food Club network.

Food Clubs are social supermarkets, and through them we provide affordable food across Cambridge.  Membership of a Fairbite Affordable Food Club enables people to access affordable food as and when they need it, and allows us to provide ongoing advice and support to help people so that they are less likely to need food aid in the future.

Members pay a small fee to choose their own items from a broad range of food and household products.

As well as affordable food, members can get expert advice from our Citizens’ Advice advisors, and can join the Fairbite Club – a group for all members to meet each other, share ideas about the shops, and get involved in events and opportunities in the community.

We currently have two Fairbite sites and about 170 members. Around 70 members a week visit our shop unit in Arbury, which opened in 2018. The second Fairbite shop opened in 2022 at St George’s Church in Chesterton, where around 40 members a week go to do their shop. Our members get involved in the running of the shops by taking on volunteer responsibilities.

Developing our social supermarket network

We’re growing the network to have six shops running by the end of 2024. The Food Clubs are community-led, which means we support partner organisations across Cambridge to do the day-to-day operation of the social supermarkets, and we provide the products that are available for members. The partner organisations are embedded in their communities, and provide connection and wrap around support for people experiencing hardship.

We know that need across Cambridge is rising. Not only are our Foodbank Welcome Centres busier than ever, but we are seeing more and more people who need to visit our Foodbank more than once. A one-off emergency food parcel is rarely sufficient to get people experiencing chronic hardship back on their feet. Instead, they need more sustained support. Developing new social supermarkets will help us meet this need sustainably and creates opportunities for them to access support, advice and community.

The membership fee contributes to the running of the shop, but the majority of our costs are covered by financial donations to the Foodbank. You can support the Fairbite Affordable Food Clubs by making a donation to Cambridge City Foodbank.

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