Stonesoup - feeding people and bringing communities together

The Problem
Love it or loath it, we are in times of austerity. Poverty levels are high and the use of food banks has tripled in the last year.
Here is a quote from an article in the Independent published on the 16th October.
‘The Trussell Trust, the country’s biggest food bank operator, said it distributed food to 355,985 people, including nearly 120,000 children, between April and September compared with 113,264 during the same period in 2012. It handed out food to more people during those six months than in the whole of 2012, the trust said.
It released the figures days after the Red Cross announced it planned to distribute food aid to the needy in Britain this winter for the first time since the Second World War.
The trust attributed the increase to above-inflation food and energy price rises and pay freezes, as well as the impact of welfare changes in April, including the introduction of the so-called “bedroom tax”, cuts in council tax benefits and changes to the rules governing crisis loans.
It said people going to food banks had started returning food that needed to be warmed up because they could not afford to switch on their electricity.’
These problems are looking set to become long term. Food banks do a wonderful job but they are a temporary hand-out rather than a long term sustainable solution.
The Solution
Bulk buying and cooking is an extremely affordable way for people to eat. It results in hot meals that cost pennies.
Stonesoup will bring communities together to share their resources. Using existing facilities such as schools, community centers and church halls, people will pay a subscription and give a couple of hours of time, for membership.
Membership means you can have a hot meal however many times Stonesoup is run a week.
The subscriptions pay for the food that is bought in bulk at wholesalers. The hours given create Stonesoup. People can chose either, cooking, preparing, serving, cleaning, tidying, ordering stock, managing memberships etc.
Everyone gets a hot meal.
They also get much more than that.
They get friendships and stronger communities, they can take pride that they have provided for themselves and their families.
They learn new skills. They get to use and teach existing skills.
They get work experience.
Stonesoup will need funding to get the ball rolling, to set systems up and get everything in place. But ultimately it will be entirely self funding. 

Why the contribution is important

Not only do we have people, including the elderly and children going hungry, we also have many people in our society who are isolated and lonely.

Modern life means that today strong communities are the exception rather then the rule.

We have adults who lack in skills and experiance affecting their employability.

This idea is perfect for the Bloomberg Mayor's Challenge as it will greatly improve the quality of life, is simple to implement, addresses a challenge faced by all cities and is completely transferable.

by user683317 on November 22, 2013 at 12:16PM

Current Rating

Average rating: 4.3
Based on: 24 votes


  • Posted by user734334 November 22, 2013 at 16:59

    This is a fab and easily transferable idea that costs practically nothing and will greatly contribute to the welfare in the city. Love it! You should start this up regardless of georgy-boy choosing your idea. You get my vote, just show me the kitchen!
  • Posted by user848991 November 23, 2013 at 19:04

    This could continue even if/ when economic climate improves
  • Posted by user773949 November 24, 2013 at 10:26

    This is a great idea! A really good way to help with two very big problems. I can imagine this could be adapted to be able to help those who are homeless in the city too.
  • Posted by user338616 November 28, 2013 at 08:25

    nice idea as it is, but in times of austerity who can afford yet another charity.I have already reduced the amount I give concentrating on just a couple, leaving out charities such as st peters.I would want a lot more information before I subscribe to this.
  • Posted by user683317 December 01, 2013 at 17:56

    Demahoney, this is not a charity.

    The people who need/want very cheap hot food will pay for it themselves.

    It is all about self reliance and independence.
  • Posted by user338616 December 07, 2013 at 08:11

    So noone at stonesoup will take a salary.Ok in that case good idea.
  • Posted by user338616 December 07, 2013 at 08:52

    Hello again, you also suggest as part of membership giving a couple of hours time,and as I have already mentioned, i would love to find the time and money to give to other very worthy causes in these times of austerity.
  • Posted by user798313 December 09, 2013 at 20:07

    This project sounds great... I suspect it will need some central linchpin at each location. It will give a sense of security to people who are in a great deal of anxiety and give some brain space back.
  • Posted by user338616 December 11, 2013 at 07:14

    Hello, I just want to know if the people who will run stonesoup will take a salary?
    Alternatively, is it voluntarily run by the people who register, pay their subscription and get the meals.
    Does anyone in the process get paid?
    Its all a bit vague for my liking I'm afraid.
  • Posted by user683317 December 12, 2013 at 17:40

    Hi Demahoney, thank for your comments.

    The idea is that the people who need (or want) the hot healthy meals will pay for it and run it themselves.

    This way they get valuable work experiance and learn new skills as well as having healthy hot food.

    It is helping people to help themselves and not just giving a hand out.

    Ideally it would not need paid staff.

    However to get this project working will require someone to organize it and show people how to do it themselves. Whether this person could be recruited as a volunteer or would need to be paid, is one of the many things that would need to be researched when turning any idea into a reality.

    I hope that answers your question.
  • Posted by user338616 December 13, 2013 at 11:48

    Yes it sort of answers the question because someone will get a salary,and don't get me wrong, theres nothing wrong with that from a business perspective, but you can't have people takng salaries and expect others to ' give a couple of hours' as you suggest in your submission.
    Also, I guess what I find a bit odd, is that you call yourself Stonesoup, and your idea is Stonesoup, suggesting to me, and correct me if I'm wrong,that this is a current commited business idea that you have already been running with, profitable or not, of which you are and trying to promote and raise local enthusiasm for.
  • Posted by user129437 December 13, 2013 at 15:44

    A great idea, however the logistics will be quite complicated. To make it work you'll need a number of centres, working at a local level. Schools could work but would need individual negotiation. You'll also need large numbers of subscribers to be able to get a good deal on the food.
    It may be better to facilitate people living in a local community to run their own food clubs - take it in turns to cook meals in their house, with others chipping in for the food, allowing borrowing of pans, etc. This is done in other areas of the world and could be easy (and cheap) to facilitate online.
  • Posted by user690930 December 14, 2013 at 17:06

    Great Idea
    Please see my idea.......

    Supermarket Out Of Date Food to Food Bank Shop

    Why dont we people who think these ideas are great meet up and Push On With Them
  • Posted by user683317 December 21, 2013 at 12:57

    Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to vote and comment on my idea.

    I agree it would be complicated to get off the ground, but I feel the rewards will be worth it! I do like the smaller scale idea of people using their own kitchens etc. There is no reason why both models couldn't be used.

    I really like your idea and the 'push on with them' idea.

    I'm sorry you don't like the idea. I can assure you that it is only idea. I'd love to be a business owner but that is beyond the reach of my current circumstances. I used the same user name so it would be clear who was commenting. As regards to people giving their time whilst others recieve a salary, that is the sitution in all organisations that use volunteers and it does not seem to be a problem. It certainly never stopped myself or 39% of adults in the UK who volunteer. The only organisation I know of that is entierly run by volunteers is the Samaratians.

    I wish everybody Seasons Greetings and a Happy New Year :-)
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