Article by Build Back Better describing Kay & The Larders journey
I grew up on a small farm in Lancashire and as a teenager I couldn’t wait to get away. When I left home to work as a chef and then a nutritionist, I realised how lucky I was to have grown up with access to fresh local food. I returned to Lancashire in 2011 and started to think about the environmental, political, and cultural elements of the food system. I wanted to find ways to make sustainable, local, food affordable to people on low incomes.
In 2015 I set up the Larder and based my work in Preston. I started training ‘Food Champions’ to share knowledge about accessing and cooking with healthy, local produce. I also held many successful events, including our annual ‘Feast for Peace’ which celebrates the cultural diversity of Preston though food.
Initially, funding was difficult to access and I did a lot of the work voluntarily. In 2018 with help from The Lottery I was able to pay myself and employ staff and in February 2019, we set up a workers cooperative café and training academy to generate an income to support our outreach work. Our café sources as much as possible directly from local producers, it’s a community space, hosting mental health groups, craft groups, volunteers on supported work placements, the work of local artists, book talks, local musicians.
When the virus hit, I thought we’d lose the café, but we are resilient, and the crisis made us adapt to the needs of the community. We partnered with many organisations across the city and a host of volunteers, to cook and deliver hundreds of nutritious emergency meals to people in self-isolation, as well as online cookery classes and ingredients kits to families eligible for free school meals as part of our holiday hunger programme.
The crisis has highlighted many of the problems with our food system. The Government’s response supporting food banks and redistributing waste food has been the easy option to try to solve both food poverty and food waste. That’s not a long-term solution and more resources are needed to support local economies and local grassroots initiatives to start to Build Back Better.
So what do we do next?
23rd August 2020 – we are working really hard telephoning the people we work with and writing up our COVID-19 response. Its so important to us, we need to listen to our community.