Generosity inspires parish Food Cooperative

First published on: 17th November 2021

Generosity of church and Food Cooperative members provides affordable food for people in East Oldham

Members of the food cooperativeThe Barnabas Food Cooperative was set up by St Barnabas Church, Clarksfield, to meet the huge increase in demand for food during the pandemic. It now serves 170 people in East Oldham every week.

St Barnabas Church, which serves Clarksfield and Greenacres in East Oldham, already had a modest food programme in operation, but when the pandemic hit it recognised the urgent need for more support for local families.

The Revd Paul Monk, Vicar of St Barnabas, said “Food poverty is a big problem here and the Covid pandemic precipitated a huge increase in local need. So we decided to reinvent our programme to create the Barnabas Food Co-operative which now provides food parcels for local people in exchange for a modest financial donation.”

To house the Food Cooperative, the church raised nearly £30,000 from a number of grant-awarding bodies to modernise part of the main hall of the Community Centre, converting an unsafe theatrical stage to a flexible space that is used for food storage.

The church buys in food from Fareshare and meets the running costs of the new fridges and freezers, at a cost of about £150 per week. 

Paul Monk added, “We now distribute up to a ton of food per week, serving 170 people. We ask members for a donation and, as if by miracle, the donations accumulate to cover the cost of food and the overheads.” 

The typical ‘cost’ of a bag of food is about £2.50. Some members pay very little indeed owing to their circumstances, yet others recognise their good fortune and pay more to subsidise less-fortunate members. Because money is donated, these payments can be Gift Aided which increases the value of the donations by 25%. 

The Church of England Diocese of Manchester,
Church House, 
90 Deansgate, 
Manchester M3 2GH

Manchester DBF Company number 149999, Charity number 249424
Telephone: 0161 828 1400