Since opening its doors in August 2023, Castleman Community Larder run entirely by volunteers, has had a huge impact. Based on the High Street in West Moors, the larder offers a warm, welcoming shopping experience and a wealth of community connection.
Volunteer founder Michelle Bennett, said: “When you are starting out there’s a lot of things to think about, it takes time and it’s easy to get lost in the detail – you can forget why you are doing it. CAN’s help has been invaluable. From policies and procedures to day-to-day enquiries, having expert advice on hand has been a huge support to us.”
Using food from local food businesses such as Gulliver’s Farm, food redistribution charities, donations and their own allotment, the social supermarket provides good quality, healthy food helping to reduce food waste and the cost of a weekly shop.
Membership is free, and for a fixed price customers can do a weekly shop for unlimited fruit, veg and bread, twelve tinned, household or toiletry items and three meat, diary or frozen items.
With just under 400 members registered in the first four months and no referral necessary, the larder has quickly become a hub for the whole community, making a vital difference tackling food insecurity and food poverty.
Michelle said: “Cost of living increases have an impact across the whole community and for some people, using the shop is the first time they’ve tried to get help. It can be intimidating. Customer service is our top priority and people love that they can shop normally. We’ve already seen customers getting to know our staff, building friendships and reducing isolation.”
Open four days a week, the larder also provides children’s clothing and coat swaps, and is involved in community events including West Moors annual Christmas Carols on the Petwyn, keeping its 25 volunteers busy.
With help from local tradespeople, the team’s passion to re-use and reduce waste has been key, putting to good use everything from Beales flooring and salvaged shelving in their shop fit, to ensuring they have zero food waste. For the future, the team hope to extend their opening hours and introduce a home delivery service to reach their most vulnerable members throughout winter and beyond.