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19th January 2022

Introducing our Charity of the Year: Food Friends

Food Friends is a registered charity, working to combat social isolation and loneliness in communities through food and friendship. Flo caught up with Anna, their CEO to find out more about what they do...

1. Tell us a little about yourself

Hi there, my name’s Anna and back in 2019 I embarked on the mission to set up Food Friends. I have always volunteered, from having a weekly shift at a soup kitchen when I was at University to getting involved with local litter picks and community events. Volunteering can be fantastic, there is nothing better than the feeling of making a positive contribution to your community, being part of something bigger than yourself. However, often the busyness of life can be consuming and often we fail to see the people around us, people that may need our help and support. I am passionate about changing this- allowing people with busy lives the opportunity to connect with their community through positive volunteering opportunities. I was awarded The Points of Light Award by the Prime Minister on ‘National Loneliness Awareness Week’ in June 2021 for setting up Food Friends and was one of ten people chosen across the world to tell my story, as an inspiration honour roll, at the Points of Light Gala held in New York in September 2021. It has been a busy few years and I have been incredibly lucky to have met so many wonderful people along the way, through the fantastic Food Friends community that has been built.

2. What is Food Friends and how can people get involved?

Food Friends is a registered charity, working to combat social isolation and loneliness in communities through food and friendship. We do this through our meal sharing initiative that connects volunteers – who are willing to deliver an extra portion of their home cooked food – with a neighbour - who would benefit from a nutritious meal and a doorstep chat. The project is intergenerational, tackling social isolation and encouraging the community to support one another with every delicious bite!

To date, we have recruited over 100 volunteer cooks in the Whitstable area who have delivered thousands of home cooked meals, each one with kindness and care. We have just embarked on setting up a Food Friends community in Faversham and are planning to develop our meal sharing initiative in Canterbury and Thanet.

The volunteering opportunity is simple, uniquely rewarding, built on people’s love of food and its ability to connect those in a community who would otherwise never cross paths. The majority of volunteers deliver an extra portion of their home cooked food once a week. However, we are not looking for a specific time commitment from volunteers and are open to all suggestions. Perhaps a food drop-off once every two weeks, once a month, just really is up to you. We all lead busy lives so Food Friends is designed to slot into, and fit around, the hectic week!

To sign up to volunteer with us please complete a volunteer interest form on our website. Once we receive your interest form, we will be in touch via email to get the ball rolling. Alternatively, give us a call on 07496 464 966 to have a chat through how you can get involved, or email us direct at The sign up process is quick and easy to fit in with the busiest of lives.

3. How did you get the idea for it?

I founded Food Friends following a personal experience, developing a relationship with June - a remarkable local lady in her 80’s. June lived alone in the centre of Whitstable, and despite the hubbub of the town, she often felt lonely amongst the masses. The relationship that we developed was mutual, benefiting both June, who was very lonely, and myself, who was dealing with the stresses of juggling a young family. When I met June I had two young children, and although there were 53 years between us we formed a strong connection. A friendship that helped me through those challenging years when my children were young. I created Food Friends to enable others in the community, leading busy lives, to develop trusting intergenerational friendships. Eight years down the line June still loves it when I drop her over a delicious meal, and this Christmas my family and I were fortunate enough to have her to our house for Christmas dinner!
4. Why have you chosen food to tackle loneliness?

The Waste and Resource Action Programme estimate that 10.5 billion edible meals are wasted each year by UK households. Here at Food Friends we say don’t waste that extra portion, or freeze it with good intention, instead share it with a neighbour and do something great with that plate! Food is a fantastic way to tackle social isolation and loneliness and bridge divides across communities. The gift of a meal is so much more than ingredients on a plate, nourishment beyond nutrition; it brings hope and kindness, and that is exactly what lies at the heart of the Food Friends model.