Life is never a bed of roses. Unfortunately, some people have it worse than others. It’s only human to lend a hand and New Zealand made steps towards that last March.
Wellington City opened its first ‘social’ supermarket aimed at offering the less than fortunate a choice in their shopping. This community-run supermarket has been a blessing to many. As such, they are opening a second social supermarket in Kaitāia.
Initially, families in need would receive help and support via food parcels. Yet, it was noted that this did not allow them the freedom to choose what they wanted and needed. As such, the social supermarket began as a way of offering families in need the “opportunity to choose” with there being “dignity in choice”.
The social supermarket looks very much like any other supermarket with shelves filled with daily necessities. However, one notable difference is that they are not priced. Instead, ‘purchasing’ items is based on a point system. Shoppers are given points based on the number of people they are shopping for. Although it was launched roughly two months ago, many saw outcomes of its benefits and resolved to set up more to help others in need.
Kaitāia’s new social supermarket is being brought to life thanks to the joint efforts of the supermarket group Foodstuffs, Māori providers such as Te Kahu Oranga Whānau (a collective of iwi and Māori organisations in the Far North) and other NGOs. Currently, they are still setting up the store on land bought by Māori social cooperatives. But, it is supposedly slated to open sometime in late May.
The new social supermarket will be known as Pātaka which refers to a food storehouse or a community pantry. Additionally, it was noted that they will be using a koha (donation) system so that people can pay what they can afford. This means that there is no fixed pricing, however what is given will go towards reducing the operating cost of the place.
Organisers are hoping the social supermarket will be a place were people can be served and supported with dignity. “It’s a place where whānau (community of related families living in the same area) can exercise their own choices,” Phillip Murray of Te Kahu Oranga Whānau explained. Foodstuffs’ spokesperson Willa Hand added that giving families a choice also ensured they could factor in their cultural backgrounds, food allergies and personal tastes.
Although the social supermarket in Kaitāia will be the second, it isn’t the last. Currently, there are discussions to initiate similar projects in six different regions of New Zealand. They are also hoping to expand their services beyond providing food and daily necessities.
As one volunteer at the Wellington’s social supermarket said, “It’s nice to see people come in and make empowering choices.” After all, sometimes people just need a hand to get them back on their feet in life.