FoodCycle – A Place to Eat and to Volunteer

An innovative scheme helping to build communities through surplus food

FoodCycle builds communities by combining volunteers, surplus food and spare kitchen spaces to create nutritious meals for people at risk from food poverty and social isolation.

The organisation has four main aims:

  • Reduce food poverty by providing nutritious meals to vulnerable groups
  • Reduce food waste by reclaiming it for use
  • Build stronger communities and reduce social isolation through communal dining
  • Empower volunteers to develop skills and create positive social change in their communities

FoodCycle realizes these aims through a national network of 15 volunteer-powered community projects. There are currently have projects in Bath, Bristol, Birmingham, Cambridge, Clacton-on-Sea, Durham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Norwich, and 5 across London.

FoodCycle was founded by Canadian Kelvin Cheung (now CEO) back in 2008, having been inspired by the Campus Kitchens Project in the US. Since they started cooking in May 2009 they have served over 63,000 meals, reclaimed over 64,000 kg of food, and their network of over 1000 volunteers have given over 49,000 hours of their time. They have also built partnerships with over 50 other charities nationwide – including Age UK, MIND, the Salvation Army, and Asylum Link.

FoodCycle Programmes: Hubs

Their 14 Hubs are local projects where volunteers are trained, supported and empowered to collect surplus food and cook it in spare kitchen spaces. Working with community partners they then provide healthy, communal meals to those at risk from food poverty and social isolation in the community. Using their innovative triple donation model of time, food and venue, they keep direct costs low and their model is easy to replicate in any community. Examples of their Hubs include:

  • The Islington Hub is based at MIND in Islington and works with mental health service users.
  • The Liverpool Hub works with the Kensington Methodist Church, Asylum Link Merseyside and the Salvation Army, serving asylum seekers, refugees, and the homeless.
A Happy Diner

I heard about FoodCycle and came with my late husband. Since he has died I don’t like to cook just for myself, so this is perfect and I am grateful… no matter who you are you are always made to feel welcome.”  Virginia, 87-year old beneficiary at FoodCycle Cambridge.

Community Café Programme

They also run our Pie in the Sky Community Cafe in Bromley by Bow: one of the most deprived wards in London. The cafe promotes healthy eating in the community and provides training opportunities for people looking to develop the skills and confidence needed to improve employability. In the past year our café has worked with over 110 volunteers, supporting 20 of these into employment.

A Volunteer Case Study

Alex, a 20-year old volunteer, was not in employment, education or training (NEET) when he joined FoodCycle’s Pie in the Sky Community Cafe in January 2012 but wanted to learn the skills needed to go into the catering industry. Alex said that “being  unemployed does nothing for a persons’ confidence” and volunteering at the café gave him an “improved understanding of working in a kitchen”. After 2 months volunteering, Alex successfully gained full-time employment in the kitchen of a restaurant in Soho.

How can you get involved

You can engage with Food Cycle in a number of ways. Firstly if you are in food poverty or know someone who is you can find a Hub location by clicking here… Not only will you get a nutritious meal but you will enjoy the companionship of other people living in similar circumstances.

You can also support Food Cycle and volunteer at a number of levels from donating money or giving your time to help collect food and prepare meals. You can also get involved in fund raising activities and, if you are a corporate body, donate money, food and cooking space. For more information on how you can help this worthy cause click here…

Oxford House
Derbyshire Street
London, E2 6HG
Telephone: 020 7729 2775

Twitter: @foodcycle