World Food Supper Club sparks new connections and new initiatives

In 2023, the Greater Lincolnshire Food Partnership developed a new event series called the World Food Supper Club, where community members exchange skills, stories and heritage over delicious food. Made possible through Sustainable Food Places Good Food Movement funding, the popular series is set to continue this year.

Written by Vera Zakharov, who interviewed Amie Watson. 

The Greater Lincolnshire Food Partnership (GLFP) employs a comprehensive strategy encompassing policy influence, network facilitation, and direct delivery. Their focus areas revolve around celebrating diversity, advocating sustainable eating, and fortifying the local food system. An inclusive Good Food Movement is deeply rooted in GLFP’s core mission. Their goals revolve around diversifying community leadership, promoting food citizenship, and broadening the movement's reach to engage new audiences.

A prime example of this approach is the World Food Supper Club. The monthly Supper Club features guest chefs who showcase their cultural heritage through the creation of diverse culinary experiences. Cuisines featured so far are: Ghanaian, Mexican, Turkish, Caribbean, Sudanese, a Diwali special, and one focused on traditional ingredients and dishes of the British Isles. Participants and leads gather and share not just food but also their own stories. The initiative serves as a platform for local chefs and food project leads, and financially supports the Mint Lane community cafe which hosts the events. The Supper Club series fosters social connections, building a stronger, more cohesive community through shared culinary experiences.


The people behind the project

GLFP’s Good Food Movement Coordinator Amie Alissa Watson oversees the coordination, planning, partnership-building and facilitation of the Supper Club series. Mint Lane CIC (run by Involve Lincoln) are a pivotal partner offering hosting facilities, promotion and administrative support. Local, sustainable and organic produce is provided by Old Wood Organic CIC, Washingborough Academy (who grow their own produce and hold Gold Food For Life catering mark), the Doddington Hall Estate kitchen garden, as well as ingredients provided by FareShare Midlands and Mint Lane Cafe itself.

The chefs are the stars of the project, bringing their culinary expertise and cultural heritage which are key ingredients of the series’ success. And the community members taking part in the Supper Clubs are themselves key contributors, actively participating in and enriching events by sharing their culinary skills, recipes, and cultural heritage. The Supper Clubs also involve Storytellers, Musicians and Artisans, who contribute narratives, traditional arts, or crafts related to the cultural themes highlighted during the Supper Club events.

Due to the shared learning and exchange nature of the Supper Clubs, everyone involved is a beneficiary, including those simply taking part to learn, and those leading the sessions. Some participants are themselves interested in culinary education and events. Two participants have gone on to host their own Supper Clubs! The events are also great platforms for other organisations, clubs and community groups focusing on cultural appreciation and exchange, including Earth Lincs, International Welcome Café, and Slow Circular Earth.


Success – and seeds of new initiatives

The Supper Club events have played a significant role in fostering a sense of community and friendship among attendees and all those involved in running and resourcing the sessions. The response from everyone involved has been overwhelmingly positive. This initiative has contributed significantly to promoting cross-cultural understanding and appreciation within the Greater Lincolnshire community. Project partners involved in the World Food Supper Club are currently leveraging the positive reception and success of these events to attract further financial support.

Participants said:

“Thank you for all the work you are doing. It is creating a real buzz and connection joining diverse groups together. It’s part of what is going on in the wider region, UK, and worldwide - helping us to think about the origins of the food we eat, and more.”

“[I loved hearing the] histories behind the food. I feel inspired by the love and care that food brings to the table and our hearts.”

The World Food Supper Club has also inspired the initiation of new cooking groups, which now serve as platforms for culinary enthusiasts and cultural ambassadors to further engage with the community. These new cooking groups hope to extend the legacy of the initiative, promoting ongoing cultural exchanges and creating spaces for individuals to share their heritage and culinary expertise beyond the running of the Supper Club events.


The resources and assets involved

The funding for this initiative came from the SFP Good Food Movement grant. In addition to the GFM Guide, the coordinators also utilised the REDI for Change toolkit, a repository of information that proved essential in broadening their outreach and engaging a wider audience. The Mint Lane Cafe's kitchen and community space was a central asset without which the project would not be possible. The coordinators intended for the Supper Club series to serve as a prototype for encouraging other food hubs, food partnerships, and community cafes across Greater Lincolnshire, particularly in North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire, to replicate and adapt similar successful events. The GLFP team envision this as a starting point to inspire wider community engagement and cultural celebration within the region.


Challenges along the way

The project was not without its hurdles. Setting up effective payment systems for suppliers and leads was challenging, particularly in the initial stages of the event series. Engaging new individuals from underrepresented groups posed another challenge. The involvement of four guest chefs from the International Welcome Cafe as key collaborators resulted in increased and more diverse community interest in the events, which ultimately led to the immense success of the Supper Clubs.

The funding model of the Supper Clubs also proved a challenge. Charging £10 per person for a three-course meal while relying solely on ticket sales proved unsustainable. While the project was able to offer compensation to the host chefs, there is a need to re-evaluate the cost model to ensure the project’s future financial sustainability.


What’s next?

GLFP are working to expand their events across Greater Lincolnshire, including continuing the World Food Supper Club and using the project’s approach, assets and learnings for similar initiatives across the region. The Supper Clubs continue, facilitated by Amie via her initiative Slow Circular Earth. This year’s sessions include Turkish Breakfast, Spanish night and a surplus-themed supper club.


Learn more:

Download the Good Food Movement Guide to explore actions to engage the wider public on good food and support an inclusive community-driven movement for change.

Catch up on the Movement-building through Festivals and Cultural Events session recording, empowering local good food movements through festivals, tourism and cultural events, as well as tapping into arts and other funding streams through multi-disciplinary collaboration

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