“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death”
If you visit COOK HQ in Kent and pop upstairs to the office, you’ll see a line of clipboards hanging up in the kitchen above the microwaves. That’s where members of the team can sign up to lunchtime workshops. That might sound a bit dull and corporate, but in fact they are on a whole host of weird and wonderful subjects.
The idea for Rubies in the Rubble came after visiting a wholesale fruit and veg market on my bike very early one frosty November morning in 2010. I discovered piles of unwanted fruit and veg – mange tout from Kenya, mangos from the Philippines, tomatoes from Turkey, cranberries for California – which all bypassed the bustle of traders and headed straight for the bin!
Last month saw our Community Kitchen hit a century of events. A quiz night in West Wickham raising money for Cancer Research was the 100th local event to take advantage of 30% off our food. Since we launched the Community Kitchen last September we’ve helped feed 6,000 people at get-togethers up and down the country. The events have been as diverse as the communities we serve: an over 60s lunch, a masked ball, tennis club socials, meetings for recovering addicts, a funk night…
Last year at COOK we set ourselves a target of employing 2% of our workforce from marginalised communities. This meant we’d need to recruit up to 20 people who would otherwise find it very difficult to nigh-on impossible to find a job - not because they don’t have the potential to do meaningful or valuable work, but because their backgrounds or circumstances tend to exclude them from the jobs market. We regard this kind of recruitment as one of the single biggest ways we can have a positive social impact as a business and help forge a more inclusive and compassionate society. Done well, it also adds value to our business. I’m delighted to say we hit our target, although it was far from straightforward. Here’s what we learned along the way: