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Warm-hearted Supermarket - United social power for sustainability

Author: Cate Newnessmith
Published Date: 20 February 2008

TheWarm-hearted Supermarket is a new kind of social organization that provides free basic goodsfor people in difficulty.

The supermarket is supplied by donation of unused goods and the initiative is supported by the Chinese government & the local communities. Ittargets vulnerable groups in the local community (non/low-income citizens, lonely elderly people without income, disabled people, etc). The warm hearted supermarket collects, evaluates and sorts the products and hands out the 'warm-hearted helping card', asystem that attributes different levels/categories so people receive the products accordingly.

Starting in Xiamen city in 2004, the Warm-hearted Supermarkets have covered 23 provinces in China and have switched fromshort-term helping action to a long-term assistance system. This system is not only carried out in the specific communities, but also spread into some universitiesand increasing numbers of charitable organizations have joined in.It generatesmutual support and human concern among citizens and brings environmental benefit byreusing products and avoidingmaterial waste. Further, it works to close the gap between rich and poorwhich helps to keep the Chinese economy healthy. However, due tothe unpredictablesupply of resources, it is possible for the supermarket to facea productshortage.