Christine started Recipe 4 Change as a social enterprise. Soon, it evolved into a Not For Profit so she could broaden the services to her local community. Cooking wholesome food is the centre of their activities as everyone has to eat
Could you please describe your product or service?
These seven years has given us insight into people’s eating habits and choices. We have campaigned for years to change the poor food parcels that are currently on offer to most families experiencing tough times.
Three years ago we brought people together in the hope of that we would agree that good food was a better option for hungry people and to make the experience of asking for assistance less demeaning. We asked a chef to talk about the poor quality of food offerings, highlighting that she could not make one meal from the food box given to a family to sustain them for three days. At the time many who attended our conference agreed but when it came to doing something about it, they backed off so we gave up and concentrated on what we do best, provide quality services. 3 years on and our concerns are the same.
The general consensus by people who have not experienced tough times is that poor people should be grateful what they are given regardless of the negative impact of poor food especially on children’s ability to learn and participate fully in life. We thought we were doing the right thing by reducing food waste, taking surplus produce from supermarkets. Whilst we did save on direct overheads, the hidden cost in time to sort and dispose of the inedible kgs was both time consuming and costly.
In effect we became the vehicle of free disposal to both the supermarkets and the intermediary. In 2017 one of our stated goals was to move away from “rescued food” and forge partnerships with local producers and to only deal in first quality produce. This week we have achieved this working with one producer to provide food grown for purpose ensuring there is no food waste and new collaborations that will provide produce from small landholders.
At Recipe4Change we passionately believe in giving a hand up in tough times but not continual handouts that keep people in poverty. We will continue to put people before profits.
How long have you been in business?
More than 5 years
Can you tell us how you started your business?
After working in the disability employment sector for a number of years, I decided I could provide better quality people centred opportunities outside the industry as my focus would be the job seekers. Originally setting up as a social enterprise I changed to NFP status so I could broaden the services to our local community.
Cooking wholesome food is the centre of our activities as everyone has to eat. Six years ago we commenced Thursday community lunches with many still attending today, probably because we make awesome desserts. Payment is by donation.
Appalled by the number of students attending primary school hungry, two years ago we started to fresh food supplies to seven local primary schools and meals for families doing it tough. I trialled cooking classes in primary schools to encourage students to make healthier food choices, championed cooking with confidence sessions for people with low vision and this year (2018) we offered twelve year11/12 high school students with intellectual & learning disabilities SBAT traineeships so they can earn and learn in a nurturing real workplace so they can work towards sustainable employment and eventually independence.
We operate on fee for service including selling our small batch seasonal jams, baked items & occasional catering.
What would you say has been your biggest challenge and how did you over come it?
What is the one thing that has had the biggest impact to your success?
Any words of wisdom you would like to share with our readers?
When deciding to collaborate & bring stakeholders on board, I suggest the following 6 steps; 1. Dig deep and establish your purpose & then search & target businesses which appear to have a similar purpose.
2. Dig deeper with your preferred alliances ask questions, lots of them – be like an Interpol agent. Not just of the company but also the employees. It is not enough to share mutual visions
3. Identify your weaknesses- leverage each other’s strengths
4. Documentation is important to spell out responsibilities, risks, rewards, payments, service level agreements, branding guidelines, rules of engagement etc.
5. Senior executives are the main influencers, it is imperative they are on board with the partnership vision & communicate down
6. Ensure all parties communicate regularly so that clients/customers feel confident the partnership is sustainable.