Communities where everyone thrives

Author: Chris Elliott
Posted: 29.03.2023
Posted in:

A new support programme to enable communities to thrive 

The Feed has been on a path of growth over the last two years which has been driven by recognising what our communities in Norwich need. We have considered the skills we have, and our passion for local people and food, to see how we can adapt to make a greater impact. 

Norwich has so many great aspects to it but is also a divided city with stark differences and inequalities in different areas. For example: 

  • More than half the neighbourhoods in Norwich are in the bottom 20% nationally for health deprivation and disability. 

  • When signing up for our Social Supermarket, 40% of our members told us they never or rarely eat nutritious items like fruit, vegetables, pulses and non-processed foods.  

Providing affordable food 

During the early months of covid we could see that many people were impacted financially. We responded by opening a Community Fridge and called for food retailers, producers and those in the hospitality sector to drop off excess food to us. We then made this available to anyone struggling to afford enough food. In a typical week, around 90 people collected this food and over the course of a year 20,000kg of food was donated then collected. 

The Community Fridge proved there was a need for this service in Norwich, but our Prince of Wales Road venue did not have sufficient space for it to develop. So, in July last year, we launched our Social Supermarket on Hall Road in Norwich to continue providing affordable food. Meanwhile, the cost-of-living crisis had brought many more people into a situation where they needed this. In just eight months our supermarket has reached 2,000 households using it and we currently see over 100 people shopping there every day. 

What next? 

The opportunity we have to engage with thousands of people using our supermarket is on a much bigger scale than anything else The Feed has ever done. It means we will be realigning our Support team to this venue. To enable our Support team to do this, once our current cohort has graduated, we will no longer operate our Supported Work Experience programme in the same form.

We have seen our participants make some fantastic achievements through the years. The programme enabled around 40 people last year to work alongside our café and catering teams to learn new skills and enhance their wellbeing. 

In addition to using our current Support team to work alongside our Social Supermarket members, we have recently appointed a manager based in our Community Café and Kitchen adjacent to the store. This space, which opened in November, gives supermarket members access to tasty fresh meals and social activities like craft sessions. A wide range of free drop-in sessions take place too, where members can speak confidentially to partner organisations and attend workshops. 

Our adapted vision and mission 

We have been working with the community since January to understand their strengths and needs and we are proud to be launching a new programme of support that works in partnership with the community. The programme will focus on the many elements that contribute to our new vision of ‘communities where everyone thrives’ and will still include our Nourish and Bloom projects. 

Through the power of food, our mission is to empower communities in Norwich, ensuring each and every person has the support to eat well, live well, and feel connected. By providing safe spaces at the heart of the community and a holistic programme of projects and 1:1 support, we can reduce inequalities, raise aspirations, and create a shared culture of strength and kindness. 

Our food makes a difference. 

How will we fund the growth in support? 

Most of the income for The Feed comes from our cafés and catering business. These need to make a profit to help us invest in the supermarket and our other community projects. 

One of our big success stories is our catering business which has grown significantly over the last year and has great potential for further growth. It provides delicious homemade food for businesses holding events and for social functions. The catering team is based at our Prince of Wales Road venue which houses one of our cafés. 

The café there is not profitable in its own right so this has now closed to allow us to use the space to grow our catering business. It’s been a big decision for us to make and we feel sad about it as we will miss our regular customers. But we know it is the right thing to do to allow our business to grow and be sustainable. A big thanks to everyone who has used this café. Don’t worry, there will be some exciting pop-up takeaway deals available from here every week that means you can still get your Feed fix, but just not every day.

You can, however, still get our delicious food from our REST café on Bethel Street if you’re in the city or from our café in Waterloo Park if you’re out and about, both of which are open 7 days a week. 

You can still make a ‘Pay it Forward’ donation at our Waterloo Park and REST cafés and on our website. These payments can be redeemed by our supermarket members who need food and a hot drink at Hall Road and by anyone who needs a hot drink at our REST café. 

Thoughts from our CEO

Lucy Parish, CEO of The Feed, explains these changes “Expanding our catering enterprise means that we will become more financially resilient, which of course means that we can enable greater positive impact for people living in Norwich. We are really excited about the next stage for The Feed. Adapting our mission, vision and the focus of our support is a big step forward for us. We have been working with our members, volunteers and the local community and listening to what they have told us, to ensure that the support we provide is relevant. We will be focusing on the strengths and skills of a community and helping to facilitate positive and lasting change”. 

Questions and Media

If you have any questions about these next steps for The Feed, please email our CEO Lucy Parish lucy@thefeed.org.uk  

Media enquiries should contact our Marketing Manager Chris Elliott chris@thefeed.org.uk 07784 358932 

Lucy Parish, CEO of The Feed

Any event where you need food use the Feed. It's amazing and everyone is always impressed.
Catering customer

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