THE country's first 'social supermarket' officially opens its doors today.

Community Shop will provide shoppers on the cusp of food poverty access to surplus food and products, at up to 70 per cent less than normal prices.

Situated in Goldthorpe, social enterprise Community Shop is a subsidiary of the UK’s largest commercial redistributor of surplus food and goods, Company Shop.

For decades Company Shop, under the leadership of John Marren, has been working with retailers and manufacturers to tackle their surpluses sustainably and securely.

This project goes one step further - matching surplus food with social need.

Membership of the pilot store will be open to people living in a specific postcode area and in receipt of welfare support.

Individuals that shop at Community Shop will not only get access to cheaper food, but will also be offered programmes of tailored support.

From debt advice to cookery skills, home budgeting to CV writing, the project's team aims to provide members with a route back to mainstream shopping.

The launch of the pilot store is being supported by major retailers including Asda, Morrisons, M&S and Tesco.

All are diverting surpluses to the pilot.

Barnsley Council leader Sir Steve Houghton said: "We're delighted that this valuable asset has opened in Goldthorpe.

"The new store will be a great asset for local residents enabling them to access a range of high quality, low cost food as well as a place where they can access local services.

"It will also complement the council's ongoing commitment to support people and the community in this difficult financial climate."

Organiser Sarah Dunwell said: "We're aiming to fill a gap between food banks and mainstream retail. Lots of families are not in such an emergency situation but are on the cusp of food poverty.

"It's for anyone who's claiming any of a list of benefits. It's not just about the long-term unemployed but hard-working families who are struggling."