Developing Sustainable Community Payback-supported Austerity Food Retail in Greater Manchester: a pilot project with Stockport Homes’ ‘Your Local Pantry’


Veg grown in local gardens

This project is funded by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority through the Foundational Economy Innovation Fund



‘Austerity Retail’ refers to social supermarkets and other forms of community shop offering highly discounted products, usually making use of surplus or rejected foods which would otherwise be thrown away.

Our Action Research and Development  project will enable Stockport Homes’ austerity retailer ‘Your Local Pantry’ to retail non-surplus food to its members to supplement the dwindling supplies of surplus and donated food available to them, without having to raise their weekly membership fees. It will do this by working with Probation Community Payback Teams to:

•      grow fresh seasonal fruit, vegetables and salads on church-owned and other unused and under-used public land for donation to the Pantries

•      grow and retail house and garden plants direct to the public through Community Payback-staffed ‘pop-up’ plant sales and makers markets to generate new income streams for the Pantries to bulk-buy their own supplies of locally produced non-surplus food.


The project will

•      provide a more effective service to people in food poverty by generating new income streams to enable them collectively to buy locally produced quality non-surplus food through austerity retail

•      deliver austerity retail to a higher standard by bridging the gap in price between what local producers need and what people in food poverty can afford.

•      provide a more effective service to people in food poverty by widening the range and improving the quality of non-surplus food available to them at a price they can afford.

•      reorganise Community Payback Teams to re-focus their unpaid work of community benefit on  food production and resourcing the purchase of bulk-buy supplies of non-surplus food for austerity retail in Greater Manchester.



Austerity retail is currently organised around the redistribution of surplus and donated food to people in food poverty. But the cost of living crisis together with increased supermarket efficiencies and labour shortages across the food production and retail sectors mean there is now an increasing demand for austerity retail services but a deceasing supply of surplus food available to meet that demand.

The established way of dealing with this has been to access public funds, particularly during covid, to subsidise the bulk-buying of non-surplus food to supplement dwindling surplus food supplies.

But the supply of public funds is now also dwindling, so what the sector now needs is additional and alternative income streams to enable them to bulk-buy wholesale supplies of non-surplus food.

Our innovation is to enlist Probation Community Payback Teams to produce non-surplus food supplies for donation to austerity retail and generate new income streams from the commercial production of food and other farmed products to enable the sector to purchase wholesale non-surplus food supplies from local food producers.


We are currently developing small scale pilots of this model with Probation Community Payback Teams and the austerity retail sector in Lancashire and Yorkshire. We now have the agreement of Stockport Homes ‘Your Local Pantry’ austerity retail network and Greater Manchester Probation Community Payback to pilot this innovation in Greater Manchester as well.