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Super Kitchen: Social Eating for Communities in Nottingham

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Super Kitchen

I manage Woodvale, an Extra Care Scheme that provides assured tenancies and services designed to help people aged 55 years and over to live as independently as possible in their own homes.  About eighteen months ago I was asked by a group of customers at our monthly meeting why the communal kitchen and dining room weren’t being utilised to their full potential; “good question” I thought.  The scheme was opened in 1989 and it has been through a lot of changes within this time. Some of the service users remember the “good old times”, when with a brigade of 4 kitchen staff a hot,  3-course meal was provided to all 53 residents, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year.

The first time I heard about Super Kitchen was from a small number of service users, who used to go to the local community centre in Bilborough for a lunch together, for the very reasonable price of £2.50.  Super Kitchens cook up surplus food from retailers that would normally go to landfill. The unpredictable provisions are delivered fortnightly by volunteers.  One day a tenant asked me if they could leave some flyers advertising the Monday Super Kitchen in the scheme. I got to thinking, maybe there is an opportunity here? I wondered if they could prepare and cook and a meal at the centre and deliver it to our scheme but, for a variety of reasons, could not set up a joint venture with them.

A few weeks later a colleague, Tom, was promoting a new partnership with Super Kitchen, at our community centre Hill View in St Ann’s, Nottingham.  So I invited Tom to Woodvale to show him the facilities we had here and discuss the possibility of opening our own Super Kitchen.  We then applied to Metropolitan for the funding for the annual subscription for a Super Kitchen.  The subscription (about £2,000) includes promotional flyers, banners and posters, web advertising, food hygiene training, and an annual supply of food. Tom and I met with the tenants and a number agreed to volunteer their time and to support the project.

On 22nd November 2016, we launched the first Super Kitchen at Woodvale with a 3 course meal of mushroom soup, roast chicken or sausages in onion gravy, served with seasonal vegetables and fruit crumble or profiteroles for pudding. We served 40 people; 23 service users and 17 invited guests, staff and volunteers. Since November we have been serving an average of 25 cooked meals every Tuesday lunchtime (and one Thursday evening meal per month) to our service users, their families and friends and the local community.  We also have voluntary input from Central College Nottingham students on a course for life and work skills.

This project was always about people coming together at mealtimes to enjoy a great, affordable, planet- saving meal that comes with a side order of community, connection and conversation.  Although it was never about making money, we have in the last 7 months raised enough money to pay the Super Kitchen subscription for the coming year.   

For more information about Super Kitchen, please visit the organisation's website: http://superkitchen.org/find-a-super-kitchen/


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