Edinburgh Food Social – The power of food to deliver social impact

Posted: 24 May 2021, in News

The last 15 months have dramatically changed people’s understanding of the work of charities and social enterprises and I’m sure I speak for all of us when I say that we were delighted to be able to use our skills and expertise to support our communities throughout the pandemic.

Edinburgh Food Social was founded in 2015 to bridge a growing gap between young people, communities and the importance of local, seasonal food. With school projects, producers’ markets and community meals, there have been few stones left unturned over the years.

In 2019, we developed our Good Food Apprenticeship; an employability programme designed to give young people the skills and understanding to gain work in the hospitality sector. We were mid-way through our pilot (with a young man called Joseph, who we’ll come back to) when the pandemic struck.

As news of the arrival of COVID spread, our Head of Food co-founded Food for Good with a number of like-minded friends and contacts from organisations across the city. After a frantic 10 days, Food for Good were one of the first organisations to cook food in Edinburgh, culminating in over 75,000 meals being prepared and distributed around three pillars of Community, Dignity & Sustainability.

By the end of the Summer, Edinburgh Food Social moved to a new training kitchen in Craigmillar, where we committed ourselves to supporting the local community with food. 

In September, we were able to start our Good Food Apprenticeship properly, welcoming 4 young people to our training kitchen and teaching them all about the wonderful produce that we have available here in Scotland; its economic and nutritional value as well as the skills and techniques needed to create delicious dishes.

However, in December, this was halted again as our priority once again had to become our local community- however, this time we had some fantastic apprentices to support us with the cooking!

Words can’t express how proud we are to be able to support the fantastic organisations here including Castlebrae Primary School, The Venchie Children’s Project, Niddrie Mission and more. Our ready-to-heat meals are a lifeline to those in need, whilst our recipe bags are inspiring families with new recipes to cook together at home. More recently, our food truck has taken up residence at The White House, where we offer regular community takeaways.

Remember Joseph? We continued to teach him and a number of other young people the cooking skills that we are so passionate about. By providing opportunities to get involved with our community food and catering, Joseph now has the skills to work for us, to earn a living and to support the local community.

As we emerge from this shared trauma, things have never been tougher for Edinburgh Food Social. The power of fundraising that we saw in 2020 has waned as people return to pre-pandemic routines and priorities.

However, our work has never been more important, with so many young people adrift as a result of opportunities and resources being decimated. Craigmillar will be one of many communities that are at risk of the ongoing implications of political and economic uncertainty.

With the potential of positive collaborations and the cautious planning of community events, the team at Edinburgh Food Social are so excited about the future – however, we can only do it with your support.

Visit our website edinburghfoodsocial.org to donate, buy from us or let us cook for you to support our work, You can also email us at hello@edinburghfoodsocial.org to volunteer. Connect with us on social on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to stay in the loop.

Steve Brown, Head of Food Education at Edinburgh Food Social