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The impact of social enterprise on food insecurity - An Australian case study

Rebecca Lindberg, Julia McCartan, Alexandra Stone, Ashleigh Gale, Alice Mika, Marina Nguyen, Sue Kleve
Health & Social Care in the Community 2019 March 8
Like many high-income countries, in Australia there are a range of programmes in place, from social security to food banks, to help address food insecurity. So far, they have been unable to adequately alleviate and prevent this growing nutrition challenge. This paper presents an evaluation of a new type of intervention in the food security landscape, the social enterprise. The Community Grocer is a social enterprise that operates weekly fresh fruit and vegetable markets in Melbourne, Australia. The aim of the study was to examine the market's ability to increase access, use and availability of nutritious food in a socially acceptable way, for low socioeconomic status urban-dwelling individuals. The mixed-method evaluation included: comparative price audits (n = 27) at local (<1 km) stores; analysis of operational data from sample markets (n = 3); customer surveys (n = 91) and customer interviews (n = 12), collected in two phases (Autumn 2017, Summer 2018). The results found common (n = 10) fruit and vegetables cost, on average, approximately 40% less at the social enterprise, than local stores. Over twenty per cent of customers were food insecure and 80% of households were low income. Thirty-four different nationalities shopped at the market, and just over half (54%) shopped there weekly. More than 50 types of vegetables and fruit were available to purchase, varying for cultural preferences and seasonality, which supported variety and choice. Overall, this enterprise promotes food security in a localised area through low-cost, convenient, dignified and nutritious offerings.


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