Food for thought as libraries start up grocery stores

Emma Pattinson grabs a book and her messages
Emma Pattinson grabs a book and her messages
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IT’S not very often Bridget Jones and broccoli get to share the same room space, or Agatha Christie and crisp breads.

But from today people visiting McDonald Road and Leith libraries will be presented with just such delicious combos, thanks to the novel introduction of pop-up grocery stores inside the book repositories.

The tasty – and handy – additions, provided by members of Leith Food Folk (LFF), will allow residents to pop in for a book, while getting their messages at the same time.

The unique initiative began today but is already being hailed by locals as a great idea.

Library bosses, anticipating huge interest, have said the two stalls will ply their trade in the run up to Christmas, but at this stage it’s unclear if the programme will be extended or rolled out to other libraries.

Visitors to McDonald Road praised the idea and said it made sense at a time when libraries are increasingly becoming community help centres, rather than just places where people borrow books.

Leith resident Mark Ritchie, 47, said: “Near this particular library, there’s a lot of homeless people and I’ve notice there are lots of homeless people who use this library.

“A lot of people are having to go for reduced price fruit and veg nowadays, so having something like this makes a big 
difference.”

The introduction of the grocery stalls is part of a drive to boost library visitor numbers in the face of increased competition from eReaders, such as Amazon’s popular Kindle.

But the LFF is also keen to ensure the elderly and other vulnerable people have access to affordable food, with the body organising grocery deliveries to the homes of residents aged 50 and above.

Nan Bell, 86, has already signed up for deliveries to her home in Pilrig.

Today, the fan of Frank Herbert’s Dune series of novels said: “It means I can order things which I normally wouldn’t have – small amounts of fruit and vegetables, and so on. I’m housebound so there’s no way I can get to the shops nowadays.”

Organisers said the stalls could be expanded and established permanently if library users are keen to buy from them.

Emma Pattinson, food and health development worker at Edinburgh Community Food, which is overseeing LFF, said: “These stalls are for the community rather than profit-driven. It’s about affordability and seeing libraries as community hubs.”

Councillor Norma Austin Hart, the city’s deputy culture and leisure leader, said: “This great initiative will help improve access to good, fresh food for older people and hopefully encourage a new audience into both libraries.”

LFF will also offer dried fruit, jam, porridge oats and broth mix among other produce.

A grey area

HERE’S a tongue in cheek look at some books given a one-off culinary slant. Bon

appetit!

• Bridget Jones’s Diary – The Edge of Raisin

• Fifty Shades of Grapes

• The Da Vinci Cod

• Jane Pear

• Harry Potter and the Order of the Messages

• Oliver Crisp

• Down and Sprout in Paris and London

• Dr Avocado

• Lime and Punishment

• War And Peas