SE Kitchen in Ramsgate: A one-stop shop for affordable food and host of support services

SE Kitchen in Ramsgate

New commercial fridges and freezers and display racks are not the only improvements that have been made at the SE Kitchen at St George’s Church hall in Ramsgate.

Services at the venue have also been expanded to offer not just the social supermarket but a one-stop shop for advice on everything from finding work, navigating the housing and benefits system to healthy eating and household budgeting.

The shop began life in 2020 under Our Kitchen on the Isle of Thanet scheme. It was taken over by Social Enterprise Kent CIC (SEK) in October last year and has undergone some big changes to offer a wide range of support.

Tasha (right) with shop manager Angel

Food project manager Tasha Hart took on her role at the beginning of September after already working for SEK in Ramsgate on a Helping Hands Project which offered support with finances, work or digital skills. That scheme ended in August but has fed into a new Cost of Living Support programme, funded by East Kent NHS & Social Care Partnership Trust, aimed at helping people to not only eat well but to manage many other aspects of daily life.

Tasha said: “I was working on the Helping Hands project upstairs (in the hall) and receiving referrals through local organisations and also from the shop and volunteers for people who needed additional help. The Cost of Living project is broader and covers east Kent.”

Colleague Seb Reilly added: “Our work is to help in whatever ways we can to help improve health inequalities.

“We will help people with things like budgeting and improving health on a long-term basis in the Ramsgate shop and the Margate SEK office.”

The shop is, of course, an integral part of the offer. Goods come from FareShare, local gleaners and businesses such as Thanet Earth and are offered at around 60% of the usual supermarket retail price.

Tasha said: “We are not a food bank. The traditional food bank does not solve the problem and is not sustainable because it relies on donations all the time. After covid there was a surge and potential for support to run food banks but that has now gone although the need is still there.

“We aim to help with prices that are more affordable and can also signpost people to other SEK services or other organisations that can help, such as Porchlight, the Salvation Army and the Job Centre. We are now a one stop shop.”

The social shop is open to everyone, no membership or registration is required. Tasha said: “There are no questions, no judgement, anyone who needs to shop here is more than welcome. Anyone who needs to make their money go further can come here.

“We buy most of our supplies from FareShare and a couple of other providers and we also receive donations. FareShare has been hit by supermarkets not having so much surplus which means we feel the impact of that too.

“We are being creative and finding ways to build links with local producers and sellers. Thanet Earth is fantastic and makes a donation every week and the Deal gleaners provide what they can, when they can as well but we are desperate for more fresh produce and would like to forge connections with local producers and suppliers who may have surplus.”

Alongside the shelves of products ranging from toiletries to cereals and frozen goods, the SE Kitchen offers £1 bags of fresh produce and, although not operating as a food bank, there is a crisis cupboard to help anyone in urgent need.

But the main ethos is for people to  have choice and dignity, being able to make their money stretch but still buying foods they want.

Tasha said: “It is dignity of choice, making people’s money go further and empowering residents to be able to eat healthy food and to be in control of what and how they eat and where they buy from.

“There is also always a friendly face here so people can come and have a chat. We have our shop managers Angel Brooks and Angela Growth-Seary and an amazing team of volunteers.”

Shoppers are also doing their bit as everything that is bought provides funds to buy in for the next lot of customers.

The SE Kitchen has  extended opening hours and is now open 9am to 4pm Monday, Tuesday and Thursday; 10.30am to 4pm on Wednesday and Friday and 9am to 12.30pm on Saturday.

SEK  and Produced in Kent are also currently leading  the Kent Food Partnership with the aim of championing access to healthy affordable food for all as well as supporting businesses to reduce supply chains and barriers to food. The partnership also includes local government, public health, Kent Universities, food and drink business representatives and community groups.

Initial aims are to tackle food poverty, promote healthy eating and sustainable products and to reduce waste – something that also applies to the shop. Last month the partnership submitted an application for Kent to become a sustainable food place:

SEK is hoping to encourage donations of items such as tinned food, cereals, toiletries and long life milk, for the crisis cupboard and would also like to hear from businesses that want to help out with donations towards the new freezers or would like to help as a supplier.

Get in touch

Contact [email protected]

For advice on budgeting, benefits, grants, skills and more email [email protected]

Find the facebook page by clicking here

Or pop to St George’s Hall in Broad Street, Ramsgate, during opening hours.

9 Comments

  1. Well done carrying on the project that SHARON GOODYER and I started a few years ago with our kitchen

  2. How ironic that in a tory stronghold this is needed. Wake up people and look around you and see what the tories are doing to this country

    • Last year, the world’s top energy companies made £150 Billion in profit.
      Meanwhile, we can only afford to heat one room in our house, and then only for a few hours a day.
      And what does the government do?
      Borrow money, that our children and grandchildren will be paying back for decades, to give us “grants” towards paying our energy bills (ie boosting the energy companies’ profits)

  3. Prices in this CIC (not for profit) are quite high.

    Yes they are much lower than supermarkets but supermarkets don’t get food for free and so don’t realise 100% profit on each item as these outlets do.

    I know a few people who can no longer afford to ‘shop’ in this place.

    • Your point? Shop makes money. Money is fed back into CIC to provide more items, at lower prices…

      You’re not wrongfully accusing them of profiteering are you?

    • Social supermarkets have to buy their stock (they don’t run on donations like foodbanks). They add the smallest margins possible to enable to shop to exist. This one advertises pricing items at between 50-60% full price, that’s cheaper than many others I’ve seen.

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