What is the Growing Community Food Enterprises toolkit?

The Growing Community Food Enterprises toolkit is a free, interactive set of tools, tips, guidance and resources. The toolkit aims to support community food projects to develop more sustainable financial and operational models, explore ways to diversify income, and provide useful ideas and resources. The toolkit has been developed by Sustain and GCDA following our yearlong Connecting Community Food Enterprises project.

What is a community food enterprise?

Across the country the community food enterprise sector is growing, with a focus on supplying good quality, affordable food to their local area, supporting those experiencing food insecurity and bringing the community together. These include a range of trading models ranging from pantries and community shops, food cooperative buying groups, community cafés, meal services, veg boxes, small-scale producers and mobile greengrocers.

These enterprises are rooted in their local communities, generally formed by and for the people they serve. They often have a focus on improving access to food to their local community, and may be based on low-cost trading models, sliding scale or solidarity models, or accepting schemes such as Healthy Start and Alexandra Rose as payment, supporting people with lower incomes to access good food. They may have additional aims around health, the environment, reducing social isolation, and more broadly tackling poverty and social injustice. Equally, many emergency food providers are concerned about their current model being unsustainable and interested in exploring more sustainable models that still deliver social value.

Connecting Community Food Enterprises project background

Community food enterprises face multiple challenges, from financial resilience to food supply. Sustain worked with four partner locations across England; Brighton and Hove Food Partnership, Bury Voluntary, Community and Faith Alliance, Feedback Global (Liverpool) and Waltham Forest Food Partnership, as well as GCDA, to explore good practice, identify challenges and areas for business support, and learn from each other. We held a national site visit in each of the four partner locations, as well as a series of workshops.

How to use the toolkit

The online toolkit is designed to be an interactive, live resource that can be updated over time. The toolkit contains 8 sections, which you can click through using the orange-outlined buttons, or the navigation tool on the right-hand side of the screen. Each section includes written guidance, downloadable tools, and links to other useful websites and resources.

The toolkit has been designed by according to the order in which you would complete the steps if starting a project from scratch; how to use the toolkit, starting off, defining the need, making the change, products, services and operations, finances and funding, and communications. You can use the resources in any order you would like, depending where you are at on your journey, and as you progress you may go back to earlier tools.


Good Food Enterprise: Working to provide food that is good for people and the planet, and support local production playing a part in community beyond trading.


Definitions of key terms used in this toolkit.

Open glossary

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