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FoodCycle - community meals

Case Study

FoodCycle is a UK-based charity addressing food poverty, loneliness and food waste through community meals. For over 15 years, the charity has been using food that would otherwise go to waste to support vulnerable people. Its 84 projects across England and Wales are run by a team of more than 6,500
volunteers, including a number of Compass Group UK & Ireland colleagues. FoodCycle invests in the coaching, development and retention of its volunteers, who in addition to providing nutritious meals to guests, join them for a friendly chat at the end of each session.

Guests come from a diverse cross-section of society. Anyone and everyone is welcome, with many guests being from low-income families, the elderly, refugees or homeless. Nearly a third are unemployed and a quarter are unable to work due to disability or illness. Many also suffer from physical or mental health issues, while others fall through the cracks when it comes to government support. And with the cost of living rising, many of these problems have been exacerbated.

The charity’s project leaders are a vital part of the daily operation of the charity. They need proper training to ensure food can be prepared and delivered safely. If there aren’t enough project leaders to oversee the meals, they can’t be delivered. So as the charity continues to grow, it needed extra support to provide the right coaching for project leaders, giving them the skills to oversee the meal projects and support some of the project’s most vulnerable guests.

We have supported FoodCycle with a grant that has been used to continue recruiting and training project leaders. In both areas, FoodCycle has exceeded its initial targets. Having initially hoped to attract between 90 and 150 new project leaders, it now has 159. With extra funds now at its disposal, the charity has continued to provide CPD-accredited courses on everything from food safety and Covid readiness, to safeguarding, first aid and disability awareness.

In addition, employees from Compass Group UK&I (including chefs) have been visiting some of FoodCycle’s Projects across the country, supporting the provision of community meals as volunteers themselves, as well as training the charity’s volunteers. The warm food and friendly company offered at FoodCycle’s projects is helping many people enjoy a hot meal and avoid loneliness. For instance, Ian first came to FoodCycle Longbridge and West Heath as he couldn’t always afford to cook a meal for himself. Through the project and its dedicated volunteers, Ian can enjoy big portions of warm food while at the same time meeting new people. He visits twice a week knowing that there’s support and care for him every time