Posted: Wed 18th Jan 2023

Mobile shop run by Deeside charity proves big hit with older residents and people living alone

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Jan 18th, 2023

A Deeside-based charity which operates two mobile shops across North Wales has proved a big hit with pensioners and people living alone.

Can Cook, Well-Fed is a social enterprise which aims to make fresh and healthy food affordable for all, particularly as the cost of living crisis bites. Their mission is to ensure that despite these challenges, people can still enjoy fresh meals to give them strength and sustenance. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

This includes the mobile shop programme, alongside warm hubs and a slow cooker project. These are all making a difference in supporting people in different communities.

Can Cook, Well-Fed is a partnership made up of Shotton-based social enterprise Can Cook alongside Flintshire County Council and ClwydAlyn Housing Association.

The organisation’s mobile shop scheme even provides loyalty cards and when a customer spends a certain amount they can get a free slow cooker.

They’ve also introduced a new ‘cook easy’ range providing a box of ingredients for £5 and a step-by-step guide to preparing meals, from cottage pie to fajitas.

Laura Hankey, development manager for Can Cook, Well-Fed, leads the slow cooker programme run by the charity and spoke of what a difference the targeted mobile shops were making to different people who might otherwise have struggled to afford fresh fruit and veg, for example.

One of the Can Cook, Well-Fed mobile shops

She said the mobile shops were also helping provide an ample supply of fresh fruit and veg sold individually for people only wanting to buy small amounts. The mobile shops also provide freshly prepared ready meals and slow cooker packs for people to take away and cook at home.

The individual ready meals and slow cooker packs were proving to be popular with older people and especially with men who were living on their own, perhaps after losing their partner or leaving home.

She said: “Our mobile shop scheme started in January and and has been progressing quite quickly. It’s going really well and we’ve definitely seen an increase in take up. I think word of mouth has been working well for us.

“We are working with Flintshire County Council and it’s an ongoing project. We are always starting to visit new areas. We initially began with one vehicle and now we’ve got two we go across North Wales.

An example of the range of freshly-prepared meals produced by Can Cook/Well-Fed

“On the mobile shops we have a team who are community development focused. They like to go to new areas and look at what residents there would like from the service and try to complement that.

“We spend a bit of time getting to know the community, getting to know local residents. We build a relationship with people, especially with issues like the cost of living crisis affecting so many.

“The shop changes depending on the location, for example, if we are working in area where there is an older population then we will offer a lot of individual meals and slow cooker packs and we will work with them to put a few weeks’ worth of meal ideas together.

“The mobile shop complements our slow cooker project.”

Laura explained just how important the mobile shops were to people, explaining that some lived in rural locations but were no longer able to afford supermarket deliveries due to not reaching the minimum spending threshold of £25.

“In one of our locations there’s a group of older people who have stopped getting their shopping delivered to their doors by supermarkets,” she added.

“The minimum spend was £25 and that’s kind of hard when you’re living on your own. They’d stopped buying fruit and veg too because they are always in multi-packs when they only need a smaller amount and they didn’t want to waste unused food.

“One of the things we’ve introduced is a big range of fruit and veg and if someone likes a butternut squash or leeks, for example, then we’ll stock those. They can come along then and get one or two of each fruit or veg they’re after, like one apple, orange or banana.

“That, for me, was quite an educational point really. People don’t like to waste food and because of this they weren’t buying these items. With our mobile shops they can pick what they want as well, rather than ordering online without seeing the fruit or veg.

“It’s been really good to see the benefits this brings to our customers. We’ve got customers who are single males who have maybe lost a partner or who have left home and they don’t really have many cooking skills.

“A lot of the work there is about nutrition and picking and choosing the right food. We’ve worked with two guys based in factories who were going to the butty van and spending a lot of money but eating quite poor food like two large sausage rolls.

“We spoke to them about our £1 breakfast pots which are nutritious and fresh, along with freshly-made soup and individual meals for £2. People have been buying five breakfast pots and 10 meals for the week as well. It’s going well which is really good to see.”

Laura said that a liver and bacon meal was one of their biggest sellers, saying customers really enjoyed this but hadn’t been able to make a meal of that quality for themselves for a long time.

She added: “We’ve got a lot of regular customers now. Just before we broke up for Christmas they wanted to bulk buy from us. Customers can pre-order from us now and it helps with budgeting.”

Full details of when and where the Can Cook, Well-Fed mobile shops visit can be found on their Facebook page here. The mobile shops visit places including Sealand Manor in Garden City on a Tuesday and the Parkfields Community Centre in Mold on a Thursday.

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