In some areas of the UK social enterprises have been developed specifically to supply food co-ops with fruit and vegetables.
They often supply other community-based organisations such as schools and children's centres as well. These organisations have often evolved from small food co-ops or have been formed when different community food projects have joined together to make their food buying more efficient.
They tend to be based in areas where there is a wholesale market, as that is where many of them buy their produce and then deliver it to food co-ops who do not have their own vehicles.
However, a lot of these projects are now also making links with local producers in order to buy direct from farms. Social enterprises may be more willing than other suppliers to supply exact amounts or half boxes and may also offer sale or return.
In addition many of these projects have been specifically set up to provide not only the 'raw materials' but also have staff who can help develop and support food co-ops and offer training opportunities.
Case study: the Community Food Enterprise in Newham
The CFE operate and manage what they call a ‘socialised food supply chain’, focusing on delivering fresh fruit and vegetables at the best price. They work in partnership with local people, charities and local businesses, and have over the years developed a range of services for the local community in Newham, East London. CFE use their infrastructure and networks to support food co-ops and can also help with administrative support. They have also linked with the Gleaning Network and Plan Zheroes to procure and redistribute surplus food.
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