Francis Jakeman, Chair of True Food
This year has certainly had its moments, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. It began for True Food, as with other food shops, with a surge of customers in March. In our case it was not toilet rolls they were after, but pasta and flour. It’s been impressive to hear how many people have taken to baking their own bread! The layout in our shop was drastically altered to make space for social distancing, and screens were erected in front of the tills. Fortunately, our shop is two units combined, giving us space to allow six customers in at once.
Fortunately, being a food shop has meant that we have stayed open throughout the year, allowing our customers to keep well by eating good food. As many of our members are vulnerable, we have been operating a Collection Scheme allowing people to order over the phone, before coming to collect their shopping in person.
Being open has resulted in lots of good moments in this momentous year. Firstly, we had already sold more goods by the end of November than we had budgeted to sell in the whole year. This has allowed us to invest in new chillers and freezers and a new electronic point of sale (EPOS) system. Second, we were able to employ two excellent new members of staff to replace two that have left. Thirdly, we’ve taken on four wonderful Casual Shop Managers, who fill in the gaps as required. Having new enthusiastic staff has created a real buzz about the place!
Another great moment was our AGM in June, which we did via Zoom. This resulted in the highest turnout for an AGM in living memory! It was followed by a questionnaire sent out to members in October to which over 60% of our 105 members replied. Another zoom meeting for members took place in November when it was agreed that being a Community Co-op it was time to engage more with our local community. This has led to a project, in partnership with the Weller Centre in Anderson Road, by which we are supplying food parcels to 20 elderly local residents in time for Christmas.
I am deeply grateful for the positive moments in this momentous year, which with the promise that a new vaccine brings, bodes well for even more good moments in 2021. It is a great privilege to be part of a Community enterprise in which so many different people are delighted to contribute. It is such a contrast to the isolation and loneliness that would otherwise prevail. May this Christmas bring you the sense of peace and hope for which we all yearn.