Kraków gives lower income families a helping hand with city’s first ‘social shop’

Dobry Sklep has been targeted at single people earning below PLN 1,552 net, and individuals living in families with a net take-home income under PLN 1,200. Art Service 2

As the cost of living crisis spirals ever deeper, a new ‘social store’ has opened in Kraków aimed at alleviating the day-to-day issues being faced by those on the lowest incomes.

Launched yesterday, Dobry Sklep has already been hailed by activists after it was revealed that those shopping at the store would be able to stock up on items for free.

Selling, among other things, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, drinks, confectionary and other such products, those shopping at the store would be able to stock up on items for free.Art Service 2/PAP

Selling, among other things, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, drinks, confectionary and other such products, Dobry Sklep has been targeted at single people earning below PLN 1,552 net, and individuals living in families with a net take-home income under PLN 1,200.

Those who can provide proof of their eligibility will then be issued with a personal card and PIN number enabling them to do their shopping.

Although the products on offer have a shorter shelf life, the prices are much lower than their market value.Art Service 2/PAP

Valid for 30-days after activation, the card operates on a points-based system determined by income.

Unused points will not carry over to the following month, nor can they be exchanged for cash.

Those eligible are given a personal card and PIN number which operates on a points-based system determined by income.Art Service 2/PAP

On the basis of their points, users would then be able to trade for free food up to two times per week.Art Service 2/PAP

On the basis of their points, users would then be able to trade for free food up to two times per week.

The idea of the city’s food bank, but opened with essential help provided by City Hall, the shop’s debut is the culmination of several months of behind-the-scenes struggles.

The idea of the city’s food bank, the Dobry Sklep was opened with essential help provided by City Hall.Art Service 2/PAP

Local councillor Artur Buszek said: “I’m delighted we’re finally opening Dobre Sklep as the path to this moment was definitely a little bumpy.

“We first talked about opening something like this about 18-months ago but the situation was a touch different back then – we didn’t have a war going on, nor was inflation as high. More than ever before, people need such a place.”

Accompanying Councillor Buszek at yesterday’s opening ceremony were Andrzej Kulig, the Deputy Mayor of Kraków, and Justyna Liptak, the director of the Kraków Food Bank.

With the contract to run the shop in force until March 2025, the city has allocated PLN 885,000 to help in the running of the store.Art Service 2/PAP

According to Liptak, the store will not just look to help low-earners cope with the reality of rising prices, but also seek to deal with the growing issue of food waste: “The store is a good example of how to approach this social paradox – we can help eliminate food waste whilst, on the other hand, also try to do something about poverty.” 

Kulig, meanwhile, used the opportunity to underline the cooperation between the city and the food bank: “The Food Bank has always stood with us during the most difficult times,” he said.

“Without them, we would not have been able to provide as much assistance during such crisis times as the pandemic. Their help has been essential, so we’re very happy about this collaboration. What we’re seeing is real action being taken.”

In addition to offering food, the store will also advise on healthy and balanced eating. Moreover, the next couple of weeks shall see the premier of an adjoining café that will serve as a meeting point not just for users but also local residents.Art Service 2/PAP

With the contract to run the shop in force until March 2025, the city has allocated PLN 885,000 to help in the running of the store.

Besides offering food, the store – located on Siemaszki 31 – will also advise on healthy and balanced eating. Moreover, the next couple of weeks shall see the premier of an adjoining café that will serve as a meeting point not just for users but also local residents.

Aiming to truly engage the community, plans are also afoot for group cookery workshops during which users and locals will prepare food sourced from the store.