Those struggling with food poverty were often hidden in the community – single parents, people who lost jobs, the elderly.
“The community needed a mobile food bank, so I found a transit van for refrigerated food which was £2,100. I used the last part of my student loan to buy the van.”
She contacted Gregg’s, asked about its unsold food, and took on five volunteers to collect 400 food items a week.
With no money, relying on volunteers and free food, but rising demand, Natalie was relieved to find Key Fund.
Key Fund gave a £12,831 loan and £2,169 grant in July 2019 to pay for salaries and working capital. Natalie had a business plan, introducing small charges, starting at £3.50 for a week’s shopping.
The Launch Project feeds
5,000 people each month
and delivers food to up to 27
houses every day
“I wanted to get away from stigma. You can have a £40k job in July and lose it and not have money coming in for six weeks, so by September you are food broke.
People already feel bad they’ve lost their job and being made to prove you’re struggling makes it worse.”
Then Covid hit.
“Covid has been horrific for the community, it’s damaged a lot of people’s mental health, but it’s put us in a position where we can help more.”
“It left us very strained as it was myself and a few volunteers. We haven’t really stopped.”
As a new business, they couldn’t use furlough so depended on grants and trading. Their community kitchens ensured they were quick to respond, taking on referrals from local agencies, and offering free emergency food packs.
“People appreciate us and are more aware. One chap came in and burst into tears saying he didn’t know what to do – he had no food, hadn’t eaten in three days and no money – and said he felt so humiliated. I sat him down, made him a cup of tea and gave him an emergency food pack, and said when you get money, join our Pantry, it’s £3.50 a week for all this food. He came back with the money, a card thanking us, and he now volunteers with us.”
Now, they turnover 27,000 food items a month.
The Launch Project moved into its own charity shop in October 2020, with a commercial kitchen upstairs. It provides free hot meals, as well as healthy takeaway.
It feeds 5,000 people each month and delivers food to up to 27 houses every day, as well as a click and collect option.
Total invested: £23,250