Below are summaries from a number of case studies. Click on the following links for the complete articles.
Food Chain (North East) Company
This food distribution network aims to provide better access to affordable fresh food to disadvantaged communities across the North East. A project officer supports new food co-ops by offering wholesale ordering and delivery services, training and development support. There are currently 24 co-ops across the North East region operating through the Food Chain Company, which is a company limited by guarantee.
Although the company sits within the wider North East Land Links project, which works on a range of food, health and related issues in the region, it has been established with a separate legal status to enable it to secure funding as required and to allow it the potential to evolve into an entirely independent entity.
Riverside Community Market Association Social Enterprise Ltd
The Riverside Community Market Association (RCMA) was set up in 1998 by a small group of local people to explore the potential for a local community market on the south side of Cardiff. Since then RCMA has set up a trading company, Riverside Community Market Association Social Enterprise Limited (RCMASEL), which now runs the Riverside 'Real Food' Market which has grown to become a weekly event with an average of over 20 stalls and over 1,000 customers from across Cardiff every week. RCMA continues to initiate and run a range of other food-related activities in the community, supporting local women to develop food- related micro-businesses, and a programme of activities in schools.
RCMASEL is a non-profit distributing company limited by guarantee. It was set up to handle the increasingly large amounts of income from market stall rental and grants. Income for 2004/5 was approximately £45,000 with around 50% generated through market trading activities.
Hartcliffe Health and Environment Action Group (HHEAG)
This community development project was set up by local residents in Bristol in 1990 in response to health concerns. Managed by local people, the project works to improve the lives of local people by engaging residents in both health-related and environmentally sustainable activities, including cookery training, a food co-op, food growing, market gardening, kids activities, and health walks.
The project costs around £250,000 per year. With several sources of grant funding coming to an end and not likely to be refunded, the project staff and management committee recognise they need to look at other ways of generating income, such as social enterprise. They have a good idea about what they need to be doing but they also recognise they do not currently have the skills to do that and lack capacity (time and money) to address the skills shortage. The free support currently being provided is not exactly what they need at this point.
Oasis Café at the Southville Centre
The Centre is a social enterprise run by Southville Community Development Association (SCDA) as a community and conference centre. It offers a full programme of activities and classes, conference facilities, cafe, childcare (including registered nursery and after school clubs) and older residents day care, for the benefit of Southville residents.
The Southville Centre is a registered charity and company limited by guarantee, and was set up to run as a social enterprise. The commercial projects and activities are integrated but act as separate cost centres and contribute to the Centre's core costs. Any profits made are used either to subsidise non-commercial centre activities or are reinvested into the community. Turnover is around £500,000 per year, with the vast majority generated through trading activities. The Oasis Café generates the largest percentage of the income, and the Centre receives less than 10% of its annual income in grant funding from the city council.
• Oasis Café at the Southville Centre >>
Somerset Food Distribution Scheme
In 2002 the Yeovil Healthy Food Access Project and the local Five a Day project carried out some food mapping research in the Yeovil area to assess food issues among the local communities. The results persuaded the Healthy Food Access Project to set up fresh food co-ops by working with a local Sheltered Housing Scheme. By the end of 2003 it was apparent that many schools also wanted fresh food co-ops. Since then over 16 food co-ops have been started and these are now collectively known as the Yeovil Fresh Food Co-ops. The project's initial six month period extended to almost a year and the co-op sales steadily grew over that time. In February 2004 the Social Food Distribution Scheme pilot project was developed to supply bags of organic and non organic fruit and vegetables at low cost to the co-ops. The project aims to buy locally produced organic produce wherever possible and develop long-term links with local suppliers.
• Somerset Food Distribution Scheme >>
Community Food Enterprise Limited (and the Newham Food Access
In 1999, Newham local resident Eric Samuel was so dismayed by the lack of local shops selling fresh fruit and veg he was moved to set up a make-shift stall in a flat to enable residents to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at affordable prices.
This make-shift stall (which became known as the Cranberry Lane Social Food Outlet) has evolved into a series of very successful projects spearheaded by Community Food Enterprise Ltd (CFE). CFE was developed by residents of the New Deal for Ccommunities catchment area as a social business specifically to make trading eventually the main source of income and so providing a community-led food access mechanism which was not reliant on statutory funding. In 2003-4, 51% of CFE's total income was generated from trading activities.
• Community Food Enterprise Limited >>
Wolverhampton Community Food Initiative
In the mid 1990s residents in Wolverhampton said they wanted access to affordable fresh fruit and vegetables. At the same time, Wolverhampton City Council was beginning to recognise that there were areas across the city that were "food deserts". This set the course for the development of the successful Wolverhampton Community Food Initiative which now delivers fresh fruit and vegetables to low income communities across the city.
In 1995 a group of local people decided they wanted to set up a food buying co-op to improve their access to affordable fresh produce and, with a City Challenge grant, two small food co-ops were established. Since small beginnings the company has grown and WCFI now supplies a range of outlets, from small retailers to hospital and school kitchens, with fresh fruit and vegetables. The company is looking to become self financing by further developing current profit making activities such as supply contracts with colleges, hospitals and schools and is exploring the potential to expand its outreach work into a chargeable service.
• Wolverhampton Community Food Initiative >>
Bath Place Community Venture, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire
Bath Place provides facilities, support and education for the local community, including a community café, a fruit and veg co-op and a credit union. Despite a good track record spanning thirty years, the centre has been under-funded for a number of years and is currently facing a serious financial crisis. Perhaps a victim of it's own success, Bath Place is finding it harder to obtain national / mainstream funding. Many funders want 'new' and 'innovating' projects rather than give repeat funding to older less 'exciting' projects. Locally, Bath Place is competing with other health and regeneration projects receiving support from local statutory agencies. The project is now developing a business plan in order to explore income generating activities to provide essential core funds.
• Bath Place Community Venture >>