This section describes operational considerations, i.e. what is needed to run your project and comply with necessary regulations. This includes a breakdown by different projects.


The premises requirement of your project will depend upon sections already covered in the toolkit.

  • Your project aims, whether this project is your only service or an additional service.
  • Your market research/ community needs assessment – for example how many customers/service users you aim to have?
  • Your services and products and what facilities they require - this will determine the size & types of spaces required.

Some food projects will require specific requirements that meet Environmental Health legislation, for example floor and wall finishes, handwashing, food stored off the floor, extraction for certain forms of cooking.

If you need to make changes to a building you may require planning permission, for example adding external extraction. In addition you will need to consider access and parking requirements for your service users and suppliers, and the planning designation of the building may need to be considered to ensure it covers your use.


The equipment you need will relate to your products and services, from the simplest equipment; racking and tables to the complexity and potential expense of a commercial kitchen.

Areas to consider when deciding on the equipment you will need:

  • Are there essential items of equipment?
  • Is there other equipment that could save you time?
  • How much does this equipment cost?
  • Where will it be accommodated?

Some equipment can save you time, support a consistent product (for food processing) and reduce waste, and therefore save you money. Specific equipment can make the job easier physically – e.g. equipment to move stock or for food processing. Equipment can be expensive and the decision should consider whether you can afford the investment for the sake of future savings and profitability.

Download our Community Meal Toolkit example equipment checklist.


Transport needs will depend upon your products and services.  Transport may help you secure your supplies but it can be a significant capital investment with on-going running costs, including the driver and fuel. Does your project require ownership of a vehicle, and will its use justify its costs?

Important factors to consider include:

  • size of vehicle required, for example pallets that require a forklift to load & unload
  • secure parking and room to load & unload
  • congestion and emissions charging
  • buying or leasing
  • insurance restrictions and
  • maximizing its use if you choose to own a vehicle

Or can you find other transportation options? E.g. a partner with another fleet that has empty return journeys or the capacity to support your project, or volunteers with vehicles.

Suppliers and food standards

In order to identify your suppliers, consider how this links to your aims, values and service. Some projects will rely on surplus food and this will be dependent upon the supplier of that surplus. Others may rely on donations and again this will be dependent on those donations.

Food standards

It is also important to consider food standards. Whilst it is essential to meet your local authority’s environmental health standards for food projects, nutrition standards may not be mandatory unless this is a condition of your funding/commissioning. Feeding Britain offer resources around ensuring your project meets environmental health standards, as will your local authority.

Your project aim may be to provide healthy, balanced food so you may choose to refuse donated or surplus foods that are high in salt, fat and sugar (see below on food standards for more information). Planet-friendly and ethically produced food may be also priority, which needs to be considered with suppliers and the type of food on offer.

Community food projects offer a positive space for people to enjoy food which ideally is both nutritious and delicious. The Eatwell Guide shows the different food groups which make up a balance diet, which can be used as a guide for providing balanced meals or shopping baskets.

The School Food Standards offer a more practical guide to providing healthy meals, and ensuring these are appropriate for children.

First Steps Nutrition offer extensive and accessible guidance around nutrition during pregnancy and infancy.

For more information on nutrition and healthy eating see The British Dietetic Association, British Heart Foundation, Diabetes UK. For healthy recipes see BHFs recipe finder, Diabetes UK recipe finder, NHS healthy family recipes, Cooking on a Bootstrap, and the recipes and guidelines openly available from the Independent Food Aid Network.

Other factors to consider with suppliers include:

1: Accreditation and values

Do they reflect your aims e.g. locally produced, organic, paying the Living Wage, quality? You can then add this information to your communication materials. Consider suppliers food hygiene rating and their packaging.

2: Delivery arrangements

Do delivery times and frequency suit you? Will they leave deliveries outside? Can they deliver as regularly as you need, are these at convenient times? How quickly can they deliver after an order?

3: Price

How do their prices compare? Can you negotiate prices? What are their credit terms? What are their payment terms? Is there a minimum order?

4: Communications

Do they have good customer service? Do they reply to you quickly? Are they keen to help? Do they answer the phone? Can you order by email?

5: Number of Suppliers

How many suppliers do you need? Managing lots of different suppliers will take up much more time in having to make multiple orders and manage many accounts.  Would it be better to get fewer calls, fewer invoices?  Which products are essential each week? Look at their range of products – could one supplier provide multiple products?

Staffing, employment and volunteers

Employment is one of the most significant areas of legislation you will have to adhere to. Ensure you fully understand your legal requirements. Government guidance on employing staff is the best source of information when you are considering employing someone.

Your type of product and service, their operational requirements, combined with your market research/ community needs assessment will help you decide on the roles you will require. This will include the levels of skills, knowledge and experience required.

Download our example:

Always follow a formal process for recruiting:

  • Advertise with job descriptions and person specifications.  Consider hosting a recruitment workshop for all applicants to explain the role and how to apply.  Some roles may only need a CV and covering letter depending upon the skills, knowledge and experience required
  • If possible conduct paid test sessions as part of recruitment
  • Have formal expectations and staff procedures; supervisions, work plans
  • Provide a thorough induction to your project including all of the training required to fulfil the role
  • Have a probation period with clear objectives to ensure the recruitment has been successful
  • Set schedules and expectations. This could be a checklists with timelines
  • Ensure clear communications; weekly updates or diary for handovers, regular line management
  • Support – as above as part of supervisions or team meetings
  • Training – ongoing for quality and development
  • Monitoring adherence and set targets

Employment standards

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development define Good Work as:

Good work is fairly rewarded. Good work gives people the means to securely make a living. Good work gives opportunities to develop skills and a career and gives a sense of fulfilment. Good work provides a supportive environment with constructive relationships.

There are good practice standards available that can provide you with the framework for employment that exceed legislation and ensures good employment practices.

Consider becoming accredited to a local or national Good Work Standard, showing your commitment to being a fair employer and positive place to work or volunteer, by benchmarking against recommendations.

The Institute for Future Work have a Good Work Charter Toolkit to provide a framework for employers to work towards with 10 fundamental principles of ‘good work’.

There are several regional charters, for example in London, the Greater London Authority have their own Good Work Standards, in Greater Manchester, employers can sign up to the Good Employment Charter , and in the Liverpool City Region there is a Fair Employment Charter. Scotland has a Fair Work Framework.

Living Wage Employers

Every year, the Living Wage Foundation announces the Living Wage, independently calculated to reflect the real cost of living and the amount needed to meet every day needs.

As of October 2023, the National Living Wage is £12.00 an hour and the London Living Wage is £13.15 an hour. Paying the Living Wage signals a commitment to pay staff and contractors a fair wage which covers the real cost of living, not just a legal minimum, as well as offering benefits to employers with regards to reputation, recruitment and staff retention.

Several funders or investors will require that staff are paid the Living Wage or above in order to fund projects, as this is a clear sign of good practice.

Find out more and apply for accreditation here.

Engaging Volunteers

If you are considering creating roles for volunteers it is good to start with a Volunteer Policy. The The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) provides an outline for the contents of the policy. The guidance will take you through the process of planning volunteer involvement, including volunteer management and supervision, and your legal requirements.  The NCVO site also has three other useful sections; volunteers and the law, volunteering strategy and management (for example volunteering and volunteer development may be part of your core aims) and good practice in volunteer management.

Volunteer and staff wellbeing

Volunteer and staff wellbeing is important for the success of your project, with morale impacting staff and volunteer retention. Burnout is a threat to projects operating sustainably, particularly if your project is dependent on volunteers.

  • Having clear role descriptions, for volunteers as well as staff, so it is clear what is expected of people, and people don’t end up taking on too much – download our example Chef Trainer Job Description and Example Coordinator Job Description here.
  • Have regular line management for staff, and spaces for volunteers to check in and debrief so they can raise issues, highlight support needs and feel supported
  • Where possible hold inclusive social events for staff and volunteers
  • Encourage staff and volunteers to look out for signs of burnout
  • Where appropriate, encourage people accessing your service to consider volunteering
  • Consider developing a volunteer strategy – see Bury VCFA’s website and Volunteering Strategy for examples

Policies and procedures

Some policies are required by law depending upon your organisation size and others support best practice and a smooth-running organisation. Procedures are essential for an organisation, they help to ensure that policies are consistently complied with including those that are a legal requirement, but they also ensure consistency and efficiency across every element of an organisation and help to avoid confusion and conflict with a clear agreed way of undertaken or responding to a range of situations or incidents.

Download sample list of policies and procedures for possible procedures & policies.

Initially you may only need a few policies and procedures, but as an organsiation grows more policies and procedures may be required.

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.

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