Kay Johnson, director and founder of The Larder: “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.”

Sustainable Food Lancashire was established at an event held at Edge Hill University including speakers from Sustainable Food Cities, Food Active, Love Food Hate Waste, Food For Life Partnership, and The School Food Plan.

17 steering group members: Edge Hill University, Ormskirk Foodbank, Love Food Hate Waste, Food for Life, Made in Lancashire, UCLan, LCC and UA, Food Active, Healthy Schools, Food Ethics Council, Global Renewables and Foodwise Training Ltd

All videos from speakers here

The Sustainable Food Lancashire Charter was launched at Preston Minster on 6 March 2015, with members of the public, organisations involved with the Charter and the Lord Mayor of Preston Nick Pomfret in attendance. The charter seeks to build community food knowledge, skills, resources and projects and transform catering and food procurement. Tackling food poverty and increasing access to affordable healthy food, we believe in the power of food as a vehicle for driving positive change and we are committed to promoting sustainable food for the benefit of people and the planet.

Link to article in Lancashire Life

The Larder is established as a social enterprise – Community Interest Company

The Larder holds Lancashire’s first Disco Soup event in Avenham Park in Preston. In 2015 the Larder began a food waste campaign in Preston, supporting national drives such as Love Food Hate Waste and Hugh’s War on Waste. This campaign was kicked off in August with Lancashire’s first ever ‘Disco Soup’ event, with dedicated volunteers feeding over 400 people via surplus food donated from supermarkets and local farmers.

Following on from the massive success of the Larders disco Soup event in August 2015:

In November 2015, after being contacted by a local farmer who was left with a field of unwanted pumpkins following Halloween, the Larder held an extremely successful Pumpkin Fest on Preston Market – feeding another 400 people and intercepting food sources that would have otherwise gone to waste.

The Larder starts its pilot project: Food Champions. A FREE 8 week programme training people to deliver cookery sessions & healthy eating workshops to promote healthy and sustainable food to the public, build community food knowledge, skills and resources.  Read more about our food Champions Programme and Food Academy HERE

The first of our Kids In The Kitchen programs started in Preston, led by our Food Champion Chryssa

In 2016 in response to the Referendum,the Larder held their first Feast For Peace – a celebration of the diverse cultures in Preston Communities – If We Can Eat Together We Can Live Together

Read More HERE – (Eden Project communities) A Chat with Kay Johnson and her Journey to Feast For Peace

The theme for the 2017 Feast For Peace was inspired by the food heroes of World War 1, including the National Kitchens and The Womens Land Army. It also commemorated the free buffet which opened on Preston Train Station on 19 August 1915 which provided free refreshments to troops coming in and out of the station.

Feast For Peace November 2018 – as well as celebrating the cultural diversity of Preston, The Larder wanted to raise awareness of its work, and the food included rescued pumpkins which were made in to delicious soup.

The Larder Cafe and community hub opens its doors – article link to Blog Preston

COVID-19 response – read more HERE

In response to the lockdown restrictions and the schools closing we moved our Kids In the Kitchen holiday hunger programme online with recipes & videos alongside ingredients kits delivered to families across Preston to cook meals together from scratch and eat together. This was replicated in the summer and then in October 2020 we provided ingredients kits to families across Preston for the Big Bake Along

The Big Virtual Lunch – Our Volunteers packed a massive 64 bags of ingredients to be delivered to Community Gateway tenants. Each bag had ingredients to cook & create homemade delicious pizzas for all the family, complete with recipe cards & our online video

Kay, the Larder’s founder and director, is awarded an MBE for services to Food Nutrition and the Community in Lancashire in The Queen’s Birthday 2020 Honours List in recognition of Kay’s work over the past 25 years, working with food poverty & insecurity and her belief in the need for Food Fairness For All.

Read more HERE

Working alongside the Roddick foundation on their Lean Into Local initiative we delivered over 250 Lancashire Hotpot ingredients kits packed full of local produce to households across Preston for a Community Cook-Along

Due to the amazing response from local families signing up for Christmas Kids In the Kitchen, we have improved the program by giving all participants vouchers to redeem free of charge from our friends around Preston. All participants receive five days of delicious local ingredients, recipes & videos.

A series of events throughout May & June organised through a collaboration between the Larder & UCLan Centre for Sustainable Transitions, discussing how Lancashire can feed itself in a sustainable, fair way for all. With guest speakers from across farming in Lancashire, sustainability and chef Tony Mulgrew….

“invest in your children’s health by asking schools what’s on the menu, has it been cooked fresh and is it local produce”.