Gousto partners with one of UK’s busiest food banks to deliver fresh meal kit food parcels in response to cost of living crisis

The sharp rise in the cost of living has skyrocketed the need for food banks with a 29% increase compared to last year. With more than half of Britons admitting their overall health has worsened due to the crisis, recipe box Gousto is working with one of the UK’s busiest food banks and the local government on a groundbreaking pilot to make food parcels healthier. 

Current food parcels are designed for people in occasional crisis, expected to be no more than three to four times a year, rather than the long-term needs caused by today’s crisis. Parcels consist of NHS approved foods such as essential long-life goods including tinned beans, tinned spaghetti, soups and cereal. 

However, the Hammersmith and Fulham Foodbank is finding that up to a third of their food is going to people who are returning at least once a month as inflation reaches its highest level in 40 years. With energy prices predicted to rise again reaching £500 a month in January there’s no sign that this trend will ease.

This follows a longer-term increase in the need for food banks with an 81% increase in need over the past year compared to the same period five years ago***.

With three-quarters of food bank users reporting at least one health issue***, Gousto is working with the Hammersmith and Fulham Food Bank, in the Trussell Trust network, to test the mental, physical and social benefits of delivering fresh, healthy food parcels in the form of meal kits, alongside providing enhanced wrap around support services. 

Funded by the local council and Gousto, the pilot will take place over 12 weeks in Hammersmith and Fulham, kicking off in the summer holidays as families face the added pressure of feeding their children. The research conducted by the council and supported by Imperial College London Self-Care Research Unit (SCARU) will assess the mental health and wellbeing benefits of the upgraded food parcels and accessible home cooking, along with physical and social impacts. The ambition is that the learnings will help inform the approach of emergency food providers across the country.

Gousto’s nutritionist and registered dietician Ellie Bain designed the vegetarian meal kits chock-full of healthy, fresh ingredients and specially tailored recipes. Each recipe includes at least two of your five a day, wholegrains, healthy fats like nuts, seeds, eggs and avocados and requires less than 30 minutes to cook. To save on energy, all recipes can be cooked without an oven. Meals are from over nine different global cuisines, helping make mealtime variety more accessible. 

Gousto CEO and Founder Timo Boldt, says: “Everything we do at Gousto is driven by our purpose to have a positive impact on people and the planet. Using our expertise in creating healthy and balanced mealtimes, we hope to have a real impact on the health of the nation starting with this groundbreaking pilot. 

We’re proud to work with the Hammersmith and Fulham Foodbank, part of the Trussell Trust network, and help provide immediate support for the community in and around our London HQ. We believe in the power of nutritious home cooking to boost health and wellbeing, and we can’t wait to see how this pilot informs future strategies for food banks.”

Phil Storey, CEO of Hammersmith and Fulham Foodbank says: “We don’t think it’s right that the food bank needs to exist. We are passionate about tackling the issues that drive people to have to use a food bank. We want to ensure that people are able to access support which will help them afford the essentials in life. We know that providing emergency food is not the answer that will end the need for food banks, but we hope that this exciting pilot with Gousto will help inform our approach to improving the support we provide for people facing hardship.” 

Cllr Ben Coleman, Deputy Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham council, says: “With more residents using food banks on a regular basis in this cost-of-living crisis, it is timely to research whether providing more nutritious food, as opposed to food for short-term emergencies, could strengthen people’s mental health. The council is proud to be co-funding this study as part of our commitment to ensuring that no resident goes hungry and every resident can eat healthily.”

The recipes for the pilot involve breakfast, lunch and dinners for a week and will be delivered weekly by the Hammersmith and Fulham Foodbank volunteers over 12 weeks. The recipes created by Gousto were tried and tested by the food bank’s clients to ensure taste hits the spot and cooking methods are fully accessible. Recipes include the Cheesy Black Bean Chilli, Three-Veg Miso & Sesame Ramen With Egg and Simple One-Pot Puttanesca.

Partnering in this pilot is a continuation of the work the B Corp Certified recipe box has done with the Trussell Trust and other organisations supporting those with low food security. During the pandemic, Gousto donated the equivalent of 6,000 meals to food banks across the Trussell Trust network and consulted with DEFRA on a response effort for the vulnerable.

Today, Gousto partners with FareShare to redistribute surplus food in its supply chain to people in need. Last year, nearly 500,000 meals were donated to nearly 2,000 charities and communities.