A Thanet food and education project is appealing for support to help it expand to cope with rising demand.
Kitchen Social & Cookery Club, founded by Lucy Gray at the start of the lockdown in 2020, supports low income households, runs an over 50s cookery club and provides holiday camps and activities for children.
The team of volunteers and part-time staff collect and redistribute food and surplus waste across Thanet alongside providing culinary training.
Food is made available through nine ‘mini markets’ including at Drapers Mill Primary Academy, Cliftonville Primary and Holy Trinity schools and a community deli runs once a week at the Kitchen Social base at The Annexe in Ethelbert Crescent.
The project was initially started by Lucy and two neighbours in Broadstairs and was based in a garage during lockdown, delivering food donations to low income households and teaching families to cook on their door steps.
It launched its distribution hub and food academy at the Rendezvous restaurant building in Cliftonville in June 2021 and now, with the closure of the restaurant, Lucy and the team aim to expand by taking on the lease for the Ethelbert Crescent site to house the community deli and cookery school.
The team needs to raise £18,000 by March 25 to secure the premises.
Lucy (pictured) said: “We distribute our food through nine Mini Markets dotted across Thanet and we open our community deli once a week, late night, so all low income households have access.
“We sell meat, cheese, fruit and vegetables, heavily discounted, then use this money to buy fresh supplies of meat and cheese and personal hygiene products
“There is no stigma in coming to our deli nor restrictions on how many times you can shop: we are the next generation of food bank – accessible, friendly and meeting the needs of all the community whether you are homeless or on a low income.
“Due to the rising demand, we need to expand and have made an offer on a premises which will house the community deli and a cookery school.”
The team is made up of 10 volunteers and staff who collect, quality check, repack and re-distribute food surplus and waste from retailers and local producers. They also deliver an arts and nature based outdoor children’s holiday camp during the Summer, Easter and Christmas.
The money raised will be used to secure the premises; make it safe by updating the electrics and making it fire compliant. The Cliftonville premises needs to be refurbished. The nature and cookery school will be launched in the late Summer.
Since opening in 2020, the Kitchen Social Team, have provided ingredients to make over 85,000 home cooked meals across Thanet; taught new skills to more than 350 children through a cookery class, an arts club and nature learning at holiday camps; trained and created part-time employment for over 45 people and taught some 120 over 50’s to cook.
Lucy said: “We currently occupy and now want to expand into the premises This has been our base for 18 months and we have built up a local following. Some 25% of our following travel from Ramsgate
“We have community partnerships with local businesses such as The Dalby Café where we host a Surplus to Supper Club – members come and eat for free with their families once a month
“Learning is at the heart of Kitchen Social, education is the tool for positive change. These skills can be used to earn higher incomes and build successful lives; and good food improves health and learning, encouraging the mind and body to thrive.”
Lucy says The Kitchen Social may have to close if it cannot reach its target and secure the Rendezvous building.