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CAF Venturesome

LOCAL FOOD LINKS

Three social investments, over seven years, have allowed Local Food LInks to cover seasonal cashflow and expand their kitchens

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Local Food Links

Children and Young People
South West England

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HEALTHY SCHOOL MEALS FROM LOCALLY SOURCED SUPPLIERS

Local Food Links is a community owned social enterprise with a mission to ensure school children have access to healthy school meals.  CAF Venturesome has supported its growth plans for the last 7 years with £425,000 in unsecured loans to cover cash flow and expand their kitchens so that they can now supply 3,700 school meals daily.

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 Local Food Links 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.

BUILDING A LASTING RELATIONSHIP

Over the last seven years CAF Venturesome has lent Local Food Links £425,000 in unsecured loans, 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 Local Food Links 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.  Earlier in 2018 Local Food Links won 15 additional school contracts due to the excellent reputation they had built up over the last ten years with schools in Dorset and beyond. And so in May 2018 Local Food Links 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 two in Somerset and Devon).  This also means they have been able to employ a further ten people from the local community.  CAF Venturesome has built a strong relationship with the management of Local Food Links 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.

THE RESULTS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES


Through the expansion, Local Food Links managed to maintain their emphasis on locally sourced ingredients with 90% from the South West. Schools that Local Food Links 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.


  • “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

    In February 2019 Local Food Links won the Federation of Small Businesses Scale Up Business of the Year in the South West Region.




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