Food banks have become a barometer for the debate about poverty in the UK. While few expect the need for emergency food aid to disappear any time soon, questions remain about the cause of that need, and whose responsibility it is to address it. Britain’s food banks are doing an admirable job of supporting people in crisis, but the majority who use them are in ‘chronic’ food poverty. There is growing recognition that a more sustainable solution is needed – one which addresses the underlying causes of food poverty, and helps to restore to whole communities a degree of control over food security.

British Aisles presents the findings of a scoping exercise of some 45 models of more sustainable ‘community supermarket’ across the UK, the rest of Europe, Australia, Canada and the US. It examines their operating models, including aims, eligibility, staffing, funding and how food is sourced, and considers their applicability to the UK.

The report recommends an ambitious target for the government to halve the number of food banks by 2020, instead furnishing support for existing providers to launch community supermarkets, offering more sustainable, long-term help to lift people permanently out of food poverty. It also outlines a framework to promote greater collaboration between businesses and community supermarkets.

This publication was corrected on 25 March 2015: more detail on the corrections is available here.