Buying fruit and vegetables at a voluntary food co-op can save families in Cardiff up to £220 a year but fewer and fewer people are using the service.
Volunteers at Saint Saviour’s church in Splott are calling for more and more local people to avail of beautiful bags of fresh fruit and vegetables at just £3 a bag.
The food co-op at the church is hoping to widen its service to include people from all over the city.
“Some people think you have to be on benefits to take advantage of this fantastic service,” said Glyn Perryman, church warden at St Saviours. “ We are open to all, and we can cater for a lot more people than we are at the moment,” he said.
It’s all part of a Welsh Government health initiative to get people in deprived areas of Wales to buy more fruit and vegetables. “But you don’t have to be from a deprived background,” said Mr Perryman. “Anyone can come in and order beautiful fruit and veg.”
Hannah Jones from the Rural Regeneration Unit, which runs the co-ops all over the city, says the project has been very successful, but she would like to see more people using it.
“We do regular price comparisons with supermarkets and our fruit and veg is much cheaper for families, we sell it for what we pay for it, and it is all fresh from the market on the day,” she said.
“Fresh produce can be very expensive for families, our bags are about half of what you would pay at the local supermarket,” added Mr Perryman.
Every Tuesday Glyn and other volunteers make about 60 bags of fruit and veg for local people who drop in for a cup of tea or coffee as they pick up their produce.
“There was a time when we did a hundred bags, that number seems to have fallen off in recent times,” said Glyn Perryman. “I think the novelty has worn off a bit as we have been going for over a year.”
There are four types of bags on offer, traditional vegetables, salad, stir fry or fruit only, all beautifully freshly bought from Bessemer Road market. It is sold at cost.
It is one of 25 food co-ops operating on a non-profit voluntary project all over the city. In Tremorfa a food co-op at the local community hall every Thursday also attracts about 60 people.
“It can save families an average £220 a year,” said Hannah Jones. “That has to be attractive during these times,” she said.
Local schools are regular customers. They buy bags of fruit for the staff room and in some areas children run the co-op themselves without the help of adults.