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First food bank set to open in Swedish capital

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A branch of Willys, a store donating food to the new supermarket. Photo: TT
10:15 CEST+02:00
Sweden has a reputation for equality, but a growing pay gap has has led to the country's first "social supermarket" being planned for Stockholm, offering discounted donated food to residents.
Scheduled to open this autumn, the new supermarket will target vulnerable Stockholmers who will be able to buy cut price food donated by major Swedish retailers including Hemköp and Willys.
 
The products will include foods that are near or just passed their sell-by date (although they will still be safe to eat remain within 'best before' guidelines) as well as other items that supermarkets no longer wish sell, for example due to branding or packaging changes.
 
Organized by the charity Stockholm Stadsmission (Stockholm City Mission), the social store also has a green goal as it is designed to limit the 622 000 tonnes of edible food that is thrown away in Sweden every year.
 
"We have long pondered how we can take advantage of all offers of food gifts that we receive and how to share them with people living in poverty in a dignified manner. With this model, we have found a successful path," Maria Markovits, director of Stockholm Stadsmission, said in a press statement.
 
The charity says the social supermarket is the first of its kind in Scandinavia.
 
 
"We see an increasing number of people living in vulnerable economic conditions," the project's director Johanna Nordenskjöld told The Local on Thursday.
 
She added that Stockholm's homeless population has surged over the past two years, largely due to the arrival of thousands of vulnerable EU migrants from Romania.
 
But she noted that there were also "growing numbers of pensioners who cannot make ends meet" living in the Swedish capital.
 
All Swedes living on income support should be granted "membership" at the new supermarket, said Nordenskjöld, as well as people based in Stockholm who do not have access to the Swedish welfare system but are understood to be jobless or on a very low income.
 
Åsa Domeij, Head of Environmental and Social Responsibility at Axfood, the company which owns several of the supermarket chains taking part in the project added: "Reducing food waste is an important part of our environmental and sustainability work. That we can also be involved in helping to make a social contribution is of course even better."
 
Coca Cola Sweden, Nestle Sweden and Vinnova are among the other big corporate names involved in the new initiative.

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The location of the future store is still being decided.
 
While Sweden remains one of the most equal countries in the world, it has experienced a rapid surge of income inequality since the 1990s.
 
According to the Organisation for Economic Development (OECD), the average income of the top 10 percent of earners in the Nordic nation was 6.3 times higher than that of the bottom 10 percent in 2012. This was up from a ratio of around 5.75 to 1 in the 2007 and a ratio of around 4 to 1 during much of the 1990s.

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