Jo Wedderspoon_2

Joanne Wedderspoon

Development Manager

Charities Aid Foundation


5 December 2018

Update to this story as at 8 February 2019

Local Food Links won Federation of Small Businesses Scale Up Business of the Year in the South West Region.  They now go through to the National Finals which will be held in London in May.

We want to share with you the story of our ongoing relationship with Local Food Links (LFL) a unique organisation and a community owned social enterprise whose mission is to ensure school children have access to healthy school meals.   We feel that this story is worth revisiting to illustrate how we build strong relationships with social organisations to provide them with the affordable finance they need to sustain and grow their social impact.

Over the past 30 years, school food shifted from being produced on site in the school kitchens to external commercial caterers providing food which is often low quality.   High profile campaigns, such as Jamie Oliver’s, created momentum for change with one of the outcomes being the provision of free school meals for primary school children aged 5-7 years.   

Since 2007 LFL have been making freshly prepared, healthy school meals and supporting local businesses.  As a ‘not for profit’ organisation they can focus on quality and service.  They work hard to source the best quality ingredients, making things from scratch, so they know exactly what goes into each and every meal.  Unlike larger profit driven businesses they don’t bulk buy lots of processed items and their school meals are freshly prepared daily and delivered short distances.


Over the last 7 years CAF Venturesome has lent LFL £425,000, with £225,000 already paid back in full.

In 2011 we lent £75,000 as a short term loan to help with seasonal cashflow which was fully repaid within a year.

In 2014 LFL needed finance to build the capacity in their kitchens.   They approached us again for a loan from our Development Fund of £150,000.  The project was so successful that they repaid their loan to CAF Venturesome in 2017.

Through the expansion, LFL managed to maintain their emphasis on locally sourced ingredients with 90% from the South West. Schools that LFL work with have reported:

  • Increased attention from pupils in the afternoon – some of the schools have been able to shift literacy lessons to the afternoon as a result;
  • Reduced absences - although this could be due to a range of factors, the schools believe that an improved diet has helped;
  • And, improved eating skills – which has stemmed from using a knife and fork as the pupils sit down together and eat a plate of food, rather than eating a packed lunch with their hands.

Earlier in 2018 LFL won 15 additional school contracts due to the excellent reputation they had built up over the last 10 years with schools in Dorset and beyond. And so in May 2018 LFL applied for further funding from CAF Venturesome to fit out a new kitchen in Weymouth.  From October 2018 they have been able to supply 50 schools, producing approx. 3,700 meals daily, across Dorset (plus 2 in Somerset and Devon).  This also means they have been able to employ a further 10 people from the local community.  CAF Venturesome has built a strong relationship with the management of LFL since 2011 and we know their governance and finance processes are strong with a good spread of skills on the Board and engagement from Trustees.

We look forward to following the successes of LFL in the coming years and continuing to update our supporters on the impact that their commitment to social investment has had.

“We are delighted to now be working with Local Food Links as they have provided the school with a genuine reason to celebrate good food and to ensure that this sits at the heart of one of the most important parts of our school day.”
Head Teacher, Damers First School

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