More than a food hub – how a local organisation supports its community

More than a food hub – how a local organisation supports its community

More than a food hub – how a local organisation supports its community 1920 1280 Sue Sheehan

Somers Town Community Association (STCA), a community centre serving people in the St Pancras and Somers Town area, have created a food hub to meet local needs which also gives people more choice than food banks usually do.

Over the last year, the team has been re-evaluating the role of the community centre and has recognised that it can play a central role in promoting food security. The centre already hosted a community café and Camden’s mobile food bank, and in 2020 also launched its own food hub.

Let people choose

Instead of handing out pre-packaged food parcels like a traditional food bank, the new food hub is designed more like a pantry, where people facing food insecurity can choose the food they want off the shelves.

The STCA also helps residents build skills and play their part in supporting the initiative by volunteering two hours of their time. The model stresses the importance of everyone in the community being given a choice in the food that they eat – regardless of their situation and life circumstances.

“A big revelation has been that, when people are able to choose what they want, they don’t take as much food as we might have expected,” says Jodie Allen, Executive Director at STCA. “This has meant that the pantry has been far more sustainable financially than a traditional food bank would be.”


“A big revelation has been that, when people are able to choose what they want, they don’t take as much food as we might have expected,”

says Jodie Allen, Executive Director at STCA

More than just distributing food

The new hub does more than distribute food, it’s also a way for the centre to build relationships with local people and provide further support. Jodie says: “We always make sure we spend time with each person and provide signposting to advice and other services. We have often found that advice regarding benefits is particularly needed.” 

The STCA encourages users to volunteer in the hub and Jodie has found that after one week of volunteering in the hub, people who were not interested in wraparound services (for example, debt advice, mental health support – anything else that a person might need support on that leads them to food insecurity), decide to engage with them.

People can also volunteer in the office and so develop admin skills. This is important in building confidence and skill-sets and has helped some users into full-time work.

The hub is a great example of how Camden organisations are responding to local needs at pace. 

“We have set up this project very quickly,” says Jodie. “In the next iteration, we will be developing the shop to be run more by volunteers, so that it can be open for longer hours.”

SCTA’s next ambition is to start growing food for the community, allowing them to provide even more fresh food and making the food hub even more sustainable.

Do you want to find out more about STCA?

If you would like more information about STCA, or would like to get involved, please email Jodie Allen

Picture credits: Joned Khan

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