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Food for thought: Coffee Cs homelessness

Food for thought: Coffee Cs homelessness

Pret A Manger announced recently that it will be donating £200,000, as well as providing training to help fight homelessness in London. One recent story which we really loved at JLL Foodservice Consulting was the news that The chain’s charitable foundation will be investing in a homeless hostel in London. This is as part of a wider project where the brand would be providing jobs and training for people who once lived on the street and help them move into private accommodation. Money for this foundation comes partially from sales and from customer donations, and the project is being carried out in partnership with the Methodist church’s west London Mission in Kennington, south London. What a great way to tackle both homelessness and the skills shortage in our industry – win-win!

According to Streets of London Organisation, nearly 7,500 people slept rough in the capital in 2017 and 2018. Nationwide, the number of homeless people has risen by 170% since 2010. Being such a major issue, there are manya number otherof high street foodservice operators ions (or rather independent foodservice units) outare there, doing their bit to help tackle homelessness, such as:

Change please – a street food coffee van company that empowers the homeless community by training them to be baristas, giving them work and paying London Living Wage and support with housing, bank accounts and mental wellbeing. A bit like The Big Issue but with training and coffee.

Second Shot Coffee – the east London café or Café by Crisis, the Spitalfields institution, are both social enterprises that employ people who have been affected by homelessness, training them in a public facing environment and helping them to transition into employment elsewhere. At Second Shot you can also ‘donate’ by buying a ‘psay it forward’ product.

Café Art – a charity that sells works of art from people affected by homelessness in the café and all profits from sold art goes directly to the artist.

According to an online survey of 900 millennials, , which was conducted by Datassential and published by S&D Coffee & Tea in 2016, young people are very emotional about buying their coffee. For them it’s not just about nee, but a true emotional experience and, as a result, they are willing to pay a small premium for coffee that is sustainably sourced. As such, it is a small leap and a no-brainer to connect it to social enterprises and enable customers to do good simply by buying a coffee.

However, despite the patterns I have unintentionally shown above, social enterprises are neither new to the foodservice industry nor are they contained to cafés. Many others like Brigade Bar & Bistro, the Clink Charity, Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant and many more are doing their bit to help the community through training, skills and the opportunity for long term employment.

So why then, if this initiative isn’t news and if ‘many’ out there are doing it, are we so excited about the Pret news? Simply because a big brand name gets more attention. That may not be ideal, but it is reality. A major positive from a brand like Pret doing this is not only the action itself, but the multiplier effect is has from more people paying attention. And the cherry on top of the cake is that their competitors might feel the pressure to follow suit.

With all the hype around sustainability and ethical businesses, the foodservice industry seems to get stuck on cups and straws and vegan productsrestaurants. And while all of those issues (waste reduction, ethical sourcing, meat reduction, animal welfare) are majorly just as important, it’s nice to see someone think outside the box and address other aspects of sustainable business responsibility. I’m curious to see who’s next and what brilliant idea they come up with. #challengeextended