Serving up education – on a plate

Food-i centre manager Ben Harper
Food-i centre manager Ben Harper

Youngsters in the north of Sheffield are taking to the pub as part of an enterprise that will give them practical skills – and provide tasty meals for the local community.

The Food-i project, to be officially launched on Tuesday, will teach groups of disadvantaged young people how to run a catering operation as they prepare fresh meals, ready for customers to simply reheat in the oven.

The project is run by Cellar Space, a charity based in a converted Burngreave pub. It works with schools and support services to give youngsters who have disengaged from mainstream education a chance to learn and develop.

Centre manager is Ben Harper, who grew up in Totley, spent his gap year working with deprived youngsters in Birmingham and, after graduating from Sheffield University, has worked in a variety of roles supporting young people.

Each Monday and Tuesday, two groups of youngsters will learn practical catering skills as they prepare a range of tasty dishes. The resulting meals will be delivered chilled to local workplaces which have signed up to take part in the enterprise.

Staff will be able to order as many one-person portions as they need, with a choice of three different meals each day.

“They simply need a few minutes in the oven, or pop them in the freezer for another occasion. Family members with different tastes; different times of eating? No longer a problem!” says Bex Roberts, who will manage the project with colleague Tim Hirst – both of them are trained caterers.

To arrange a meal delivery or find out more about the Food-i project call (0114) 2799 276 or visit

Lesley Draper