The Our Kitchen shop in Margate High Street will shut in March after being hit with rising costs.
In a message about the closure on March 3, SEK say: “Sadly, Our Kitchen in Margate will be closing on the 3rd March 2023. Our Kitchen at St Georges Church, Ramsgate will be open as normal.
“As you will all be aware, costs of many items for both individuals and organisations have increased significantly. Our Kitchen has now received a bill for energy costs of nearly £30,000. This, coupled with increased waste and food costs, has made running the Margate site unviable.
“We have spoken with the Margate Independent Food Bank, who have assured us that all Our Kitchen customers are welcome.
“We would like to thank our customers, staff and volunteers for their continuing support of Our Kitchen. We will do our best to continue to support our local community in these difficult times.
“We are looking for other options to support people in Margate. We are still committed to supporting residents of Thanet through SEK community and wellbeing projects; and we are reassured that Margate clientele will continue to have the opportunity to access low-cost groceries in the high street.”
In a social media post on Our Kitchen’s page, it adds: “We want to say a huge thank you to all who have played a part in the success of the Margate store. The manager and volunteers have done a brilliant job. All Our Kitchen staff and volunteers are absolutely amazing and provide a fantastic service for our customers. We are so grateful for their hard work and commitment.”
Where it began
In August 2020, in collaboration with Thanet council, Our Kitchen on the Isle of Thanet took over the premises at 51 High Street to host an affordable food club shop with meal kits, chances to learn new recipes, useful information sessions on nutrition and opportunities to taste new products.
Our Kitchen was a community interest company headed up by Ramsgate resident Sharon Goodyer and run with input from trustees, staff and volunteers.
The social supermarket, which was later joined by a second site in Ramsgate, was the result of the Our Kitchen on the Isle of Thanet scheme which first launched in Cliffsend in 2017 and then as a Summer Kitchen in 2018 – serving some 1,642 meals to families during the holidays and based at Drapers Mills primary and Dame Janet primary.
During the pandemic the Kitchen adapted to become one of the suppliers of food to people in need across Thanet.
It then trialled a food club ‘social supermarket’ – with quality, health food at low prices –at Drapers Mills primary .before signing a nil-rent lease with Thanet council for the High Street shop.
Last year Sharon retired from the CIC and the reins were passed to Social Enterprise Kent (SEK) which planned to expand the shops with the introduction of services for employability, social prescribing, health checks.
But it has now been announced that the Margate site will close due to ‘significantly increasing’ costs, including the large utility bill.
Our Kitchen at St Georges Church, Ramsgate will remain open.
Sharon Goodyer, who is working on a new healthy affordable food scheme with Royal Harbour Academy in Ramsgate, said she is in talks with a charity which, if the nil-rent can be kept, may take over the Margate Our Shop.
She added: “It is very difficult to run a social enterprise in food at the moment, you need a certain set of skills, passion ad a belief in people.
“I am hopeful that if TDC will continue to grant that base free of charge, then I can find a charity to run it.”
Sharon says her new scheme will be ‘bigger’ than her previous projects and will help feed many families.