Evaluating the Leicestershire Community Kitchen Scheme.

Evaluation in progress. Expected completion date February 2023

Outputs coming soon

What does the research mean for Local Authorities?

Leicestershire County Council’s (LCC) strategic priorities focus on what will make life better for people living in Leicestershire. Key areas include the improvement of the economy, wellbeing, safety, community support, environment, and sustainability. A better understanding of how the Community Kitchens scheme can not only help reduce household food waste, but may also improve community support and the health and the wellbeing of participants. A better understanding will also enable the LCC to evidence how the Community Kitchen scheme is contributing to their various strategic priorities.


“Our involvement with PHIRST will have an ongoing legacy that goes beyond the community kitchens. The learning gained and perhaps the methodology developed during this study promises to help us understand the health and wellbeing impacts of some of our other projects focusing upon waste and the environment, and has the potential to help us develop closer partnership working with Public Health in Leicestershire in the future”. Matthew Copley, Leicestershire County Council

What does the evaluation research mean for the Public?

The study findings will help LCC identify the most important health and wellbeing outcomes from participating in the Community Kitchens scheme. The study findings will also help understand who is participating in the Community Kitchen scheme and how participation results in the health and wellbeing outcomes. This is important because these findings could potentially identify future priority locations and populations for the implementation of Community Kitchens, based on health need.

How are the public involved in the evaluation?

Three residents of Leicestershire and three previous Community Kitchen attendees have been recruited to form a public panel for the study. We will work with this group to help develop our study methods and materials (e.g. topic guides, questionnaires, information sheets). This will help ensure our research tools are relevant, inclusive, and accessible to the target population. Working with these individuals will therefore increase the likelihood of eliciting meaningful and valid data.

Lay summary of research

An increased awareness of the positive consequences of reducing household food waste (HHFW) for the environment led Leicestershire County Council (LCC) to apply the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), Love Food Hate Waste (LFHW) resources to set up three community kitchens in 2017. The Community Kitchens operated on a weekly basis to educate residents about cooking methods to reduce HHFW.

All three kitchens applied the six core WRAP resources: 1) meal planning 2) understanding labelling on food 3) using shopping lists 4) storing and using leftovers 5) portioning properly and 6) food storage advice. Additionally, participants were given a food waste diary and recipe book with the aim to reduce the amount of HHFW being produced by residents in Leicestershire.

Today, there are six community kitchens that occur on a fortnightly basis, alternating with a craft session. Preliminary results from an internal report of the three kitchens suggest Community Kitchens to be an effective intervention for reducing HHFW. However, participants also reported a range of other health and wellbeing impacts due to participation, including increased socialising with others, reduced loneliness and increased self-confidence and employability. Given that LCC’s primary focus has been on the role of the Community Kitchens for reducing HHFW, in addition to the new fortnightly schedule that includes craft sessions, the exact health and wellbeing impacts of participation are unclear.

The current study aims to understand what the health and wellbeing impacts of participating in Community Kitchens (and craft sessions) are for participants and how these are achieved by addressing four research questions:

  1. What health and wellbeing changes do participants attribute to the Community Kitchen scheme and are those different to those attributed to the craft session?
  2. How are the health and wellbeing changes achieved? (e.g., what are the mechanisms of change that lead to these health and wellbeing impacts?)
  3. How does context effect the mechanisms of change and health and wellbeing impacts (e.g., what is common to all kitchen and what varies)
  4. What population groups are the Community Kitchens reaching? (e.g., who is intended to benefit from attending, who is attending and why?)

The study will be a mixed methods study. Data collection methods include group observations, individual qualitative interviews and a survey. Participants will include Community Kitchen volunteers (i.e., individuals who run the sessions), participants (current Community Kitchen attendees) and Council staff who work directly with the Community Kitchens.

Survey data will help identify who is attending the Community Kitchens whilst qualitative data from observations and interviews will allow a more in-depth exploration of participants’ experiences. Observations will also enable researchers to directly observe:
• The contextual influences of the Community Kitchens.
• Participant interactions with each other and the volunteers.
• Experiences of participation in the Community Kitchens.

Local Authority/Partner(s)

Matthew Copley, Senior Waste Technician, Leicestershire County Council

James O’Brien, Team Manager Environment Policy & Strategy, Leicestershire County Council

Jenna Parton, Strategic Lead- Wider Determinants of Health, Public Health, Leicestershire County Council

Nailesh Ramaiya, Environment Policy and Strategy, Leicestershire County Council


PHIRST Insight Research Team

Prof Rona Campbell, Prof. Frank DeVocht, Dr China Harrison, Tricia Jessiman
Contact: frank.devocht@bristol.ac.uk