Nourishing Norfolk was launched by Norfolk Community Foundation in 2020 in response to an increased demand for affordable food. Three years on, the programme has established 17 affordable ‘food hubs’ across the county.
Over 6,000 households have signed up to be members of their local hub, giving themselves access to affordable food and pathways out of food insecurity. While food banks are a lifeline when there’s nothing in the cupboard, food hubs help prevent people from falling into crisis by providing a place to shop locally on a budget. Furthermore, hubs link people to services such as debt advice or cooking classes that then provide routes out of food poverty for good.
The Feed Social Supermarket in Hall Road is one of the 17 food hubs operating in Norfolk. Manager Mally told us about his journey to the Social Supermarket, which opened on Hall Road at the end of 2022: “I became homeless and I then had to use the soup kitchen. Then I got told this place [the Community Supermarket] was opening up… I started as a customer, then a volunteer, then I went for assistant manager and now I’m the manager!” The food hubs are designed to give people access to these pathways away from food insecurity, letting them take control – whether that’s of their budget, their career, or their life as a whole.
“This is the only project of its kind anywhere, and it’s happening right here in Norfolk,” said Graeme Tolley, Community Development Manager at Norfolk Community Foundation, “The Foundation is delivering funding, support, and resources, but it is each individual hub that makes a difference on the ground. Every hub offers something different by responding directly to local needs.”
Challenges in the city where The Feed Social Supermarket operates are different to the issues facing 60% of people in Norfolk that live in rural areas, for example. Due to a lack of affordable supermarkets, and higher fuel and travel costs, the expense of securing food is higher on the coast. This puts pressure on other bills, leading people to choose between heating their homes or eating food every day. The Coastal Community Supermarket operates as a ‘pop-up’ food hub across villages in North Norfolk, helping reduce pressure on bills by offering more affordable food options at a local level.
The Nourishing Norfolk programme is set to expand even further this year. There will be an additional eight hubs open by the summer, bringing the total to 25. After a successful trial, a warehouse and delivery service operated in partnership with Norse Group will soon be making regular deliveries across the food hubs. Victoria Lewis, who manages the new distribution centre, is also responsible for getting local food producers involved. She said: “Hubs have had great successes linking up with local farmers. I know how important this is for local growers to have their surpluses feeding local people, and we’d like more to get on board to help their local community.”
• If you would like to learn more about the project, get involved or donate, please go to norfolkfoundation.com/nourishing-norfolk