The subsidized store run by Tallinn City Government selling low-cost groceries in Lasnamäe will be closed and the premises made available to the volunteer-run food bank Toidupank. Six employees will be made redundant.
Linnapood (City Store), also known as Lipo, is on Punasel Street in Lasnamäe and will be open until the end of the week. The employees will receive statutory redundancy payment, Deputy Mayor Betina Beškina (Center) said on Wednesday. Toidupank will start operating there as soon as possible.
Lipo's unsold food supplies and hygiene items will also be given to Toidupank, which, according to Beškina, is worth a total of approximately €5,500. In addition, the city increased support to the Food Bank by €15,000 this year. Last year, the city supported the food bank with €73,600, this year the support will be €98,600 euros.
Beškina said the city will save €90,000 by closing Lipo. Last year, the city supported the City Store with €120,000 euros, the deputy mayor said.
"In today's time of crisis, the share of people in need of food aid and the burden on Toidupank is increasing. I think it is reasonable for the city to direct support to those in need," Beškina explained.
Piet Boerefijn, CEO of Eesti Toidupank, said in the current crisis, the number of people in need of food aid is growing rapidly and the Food Bank needs new warehouse space. "We are grateful to the city because we can receive more food. In the next few months, the need will grow rapidly and we must be ready to take in more food and to make more [donation] packages," Boerefijn said.
Toidupank is currently renting an additional warehouse in Jüri, which according to Boerefijn was not the most logistically convenient solution, in addition, they have to pay for warehouse space.
The charity organization currently serves 550 families a week, in addition to dozens of organizations such as soup kitchens, social centers and shelters, Boerefijn said.
Part of the area of the City Store was made available to Toidupank in 2018.
The Lipo opened in May 2014 and was intended for people on low incomes. In the beginning, low-priced or controlled-priced products were offered in 30 product groups, now there are 55 such products.
Employees of the Price and Consumer Protection Department of the Tallinn Enterprise Board compare the prices of 55 items in the shopping cart of the city store with the prices of the corresponding products of larger product chains (Prisma, Rimi, Gross stores, etc.). The prices of goods in the shopping cart of the city store are kept between five and 15 percent lower than the prices of products sold in chain stores.
The city of Tallinn has supported Lipo every year to maintain favorable prices. For the first four years, the store's budget amounted to €200,000.
In this year's budget of Tallinn, €136,767 had been allocated to Lipo which is the same amount as last year.
Deputy Mayor Aivar Riisalu told ERR last December that Lipo's future is being considered despite the budget document approved by the city council. "At the moment, it really seems that the money has been allocated, but that does not mean that no further solution can be found," he noted.
The number of purchases and buyers has decreased every year since the store opened. The first two were the peak years for the store, with an average of 902 (in 2014) and 874 (2015) purchases per day. In the next two years, the number of daily purchases dropped below 700, and in 2018 it was only 317. In the first ten months of last year, the number of daily purchases dropped below 250.
Editor: Helen Wright