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Pop-up Community kitchen

Why not take a 'People's Kitchen' idea to the supermaket? The left over food from the day before is collected up and volunteers come and cook lunch in the supermarket car park. It provides a free lunch for the customers while encouraging them to think about where the food they are buying in store has come from/is going!

Photo of Louise Wilson
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In the latest fashion of 'pop up' events, let's organise a community kitchen which can be moved from supermarket to supermarket. Taken from the food truck, people's kitchen and collecting up waste food at supermarkets inspirations/concepts, the community kitchen could happen at one supermarket at a time to cook their left over food, highlight food waste, make the customers question what they are buying (where is it from, do I need it and am I eating healthily?) and encourage more customers to the store.

A mobile cafe is easy to set up with a few portable cooking stoves, folding tables, mixing bowls, sandwich board signage and a couple of car parking spaces.

The community kitchen is creating a closed loop system (as seen in quick sketch):
- The supermarket has left over food it would ususally throw into a bin.
- This food gets collected and given to the community kitchen.
- The kitchen creates a simple meal from the food and gives it to the customers coming to shop.
- Messages are written on boards to explain why it is happening.
- Customers get to ask questions about why it's happening.
- The customers have full stomachs and start their shopping thinking about where the food they are about to buy has come from and where it will end up (!).
- The supermarket increases its customer base through happy shoppers.

The rural food producers and supermarket staff could be part of the volunteer team helping to spread the message.

~ Barriers ~
Supermarkets not having sufficient food waste to create a meal!
A chef would need to be one of the volunteers to have a successful meal.

~ Opportunities ~
Increased customer base.
Great publicity for the supermarket/CSR credentials.
A simple way to educate the public on food consumption.
If the kitchens increase in size due to demand, other events could be tagged on.
An app could tell you where your nearest community kitchen is happening.


Thanks for everyone's feedback and help to build this concept. Here are my ideas for a developed idea:

- To help build a team of volunteers, we can get local schools involved who are interested in food.  This would allow the students/pupils to have the opportunity to show off their cullinary skills which I hope would motivate them to develop a healthy menu.

- Liability has been raised a few times - if the supermarkets are concerned about using their waste food, the cooking site could be moved away so that it is not directly liable.  I do, however think this is easy to 'get around' and it may just need the correct certificates (health and safety etc) to be arranged.  The other option/idea is to cook the food in one of the food trucks (see 'Veggie food truck' concept).  This would also make it easier to move around and feature in different supermarket car parks.

- if the supermarket doesn't have sufficient food left over, the kitchen could be subsidised by local shops.  The only problem with this is that it may end up with a conflict of interest and the supermarket may see it as direct competition.  It may be best to encourage the suppliers to the supermarket come and take part.

- Demonstrations of how dishes are cooked or how you can cook with limited ingredients would include those not wanting to eat but wanted to learn more about food.  Each week there could be a recipe swap or people could come along with their ideas on how to cook the food left in their fridge.

- I also love the idea of education and teaching about where the food has come from, the journey travelled and how it is prepared for eating.  There could be one at the end of each of the 'Tangled Routes' exhibitions as the grand finale!


Join the conversation:

Photo of James McBennett

In the apple store, one can use all their products, the internet with tutorials in a "theatre like" space at the rear of the store in Regent's Street, more central in the Covent Garden store. I find you concept very interesting in this regard, of what can food and the supermarket learn from the Apple store and it's theatre like spaces.

The idea of a supermarket being a space of storage moving goods from store to consumer is rather limited and could be challenged with the addition of a new kind of space in the supermarket itself to give more of a mixed programme. The bookstore benefited from the addition of the coffee shop, and "supermarket + " (kitchen, theatre or even exhibtion to name what I have working on Kara.)

Photo of Louise Wilson

yep, it's a good point. There could be more to this than just food - I want to ellaborate on education, swapping information and encouraging getting involved. That's another reason why adding a kitchen to the end of the Tangled Routes exhibition is so appealing

Photo of DeletedUser


Hey Louise, just had a chance to update 'Tangled Routes' with your community kitchen as an add-on. I really think this pop-up kitchen is a great concept, and wonderful in that it would be relatively straightforward to get it up and running in a lot of different contexts..

Photo of Louise Wilson

Sorry I've taken so long to reply, Kara! Thank you for updating your concept. I'll take a look now and comment appropriately ;-)

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