McCain Foodservice Solutions launches Streets Ahead initiative to bolster the UK’s street food sector

By Restaurant

- Last updated on GMT

McCain street food initiative

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McCain Foodservice Solutions and street food membership organisation KERB are joining forces for a major new initiative that will give people from less-advantaged backgrounds the opportunity to bring their food business idea to life.

Called Streets Ahead, the collaboration will see McCain Foodservice Solutions partner with KERB to sponsor 115 people from less-advantaged backgrounds to join the KERB classroom, an online food start-up course that helps take food business ideas out of people’s heads and make them a reality.

Following the online course, 45 people will progress to the next stage and join an immersion day, visiting KERB street food markets around London and gaining first-hand experience from those who have been through the classroom and successfully started their own food business.

With the help of KERB mentors, participants will be invited to pitch to a panel where 10 new businesses will each receive an investment from McCain of up to £10,000, as well as an opportunity to trade at a KERB market. ​

To ensure Streets Ahead helps those really in need of support, McCain Foodservice Solutions will be working with a range of UK charities including Food Behind Bars, a charity dedicated to improving food served in British prisons; TERN (The Entrepreneurial Refugee Network) that supports refugees to become entrepreneurs; and Connections, a homeless charity in Westminster. These charities will identify and put forward the most suitable candidates to be involved in the Streets Ahead initiative and support them during the process.

To make sure everyone can access the KERB classroom, McCain Foodservice Solutions will also be providing laptops to the charities alongside its £100,000 support.


Giving back to the sector

With the street food market having been hit hard by the pandemic, McCain Foodservice Solutions is on a mission to give something back to the foodservice sector and look at more innovative ways to reach an otherwise untouched pool of talent and help them to help kickstart a career in foodservice.

“We wanted to do something that was as inclusive as possible,” says Joanna Eastwood, director of brand communication at McCain Foodservice Solutions.

“We are giving people who have an idea or that burning passion to start a food business but who wouldn’t ordinarily have the chance the training and resources to effectively make their dream a reality.”

The Streets Ahead initiative will also help ensure the UK’s street food sector remains as vibrant and diverse as possible by making it accessible to more people.

“When you go into street food, we know it takes confidence to take an idea and make it a reality", adds Eastwood. “If you have a less advantaged start in life and you don’t have that support network or the resources it’s a real shame because [the sector is] missing out on that raw talent. We want to help those people and the industry so that there is a new wave of talent and concepts coming through.

“Streets Ahead demonstrates our commitment to the industry and our understanding of what’s going on and will showcase how we’re going to help.”

Streets Ahead has also been designed to help encourage people back into the foodservice sector following the pandemic.

“We know how challenging recent times have been for foodservice and we know it is difficult to get people back into the industry,” says Richard Jones, VP commercial for McCain Foodservice Solutions GB.

“With the past two years behind us, we’re beyond excited to be partnering with KERB to launch the Streets Ahead programme to help create opportunities in the foodservice industry for those who are passionate about food and help bring their ideas to life.”

KERB social enterprise MD, Gavin Dunn, adds: “KERB has a great track record of incubating and accelerating small independent food businesses, so we're delighted to be partnering with McCain on the Streets Ahead programme. By working with our charity partners, we're pleased to offer free places on the KERB Classroom course to make sure we can support and empower individuals that need it most, to develop their own food businesses."

Opportunities for those who need it

Street food, in particular, is an area that can provide real opportunities for people who face obstacles in their lives, such as those in prison, according to Lucy Vincent, founder and chief executive at Food Behind Bars, which is involved in the initiative.

“We regularly meet individuals in prison who are entrepreneurial, passionate about food and interested in starting their own businesses,” she says.

“Street food is such an enticing area for a lot of people in prison, but there’s a distinct lack of opportunities and support to make their vision a reality. That’s why we’re thrilled to be able to offer Streets Ahead to some of our beneficiaries.

“It will give them the inspiration and helping hand they need both during and after release. We can’t wait to see what they achieve.”

Lucy Polling, partnerships manager at the Connection at St-Martin-in-the Fields, says that the initiative will also be of benefit to the people that the charity supports.

“We’re really looking forward to working with KERB and McCain on this great initiative which gives people who may not normally have these opportunities, access to the food industry,” she says. 

“We know that people experiencing homelessness often face multiple barriers to getting employment and we are always very happy to offer our clients opportunities that help them to develop new skills and build confidence. We’re excited to promote ‘Streets Ahead’ and hope to see some successful outcomes.”

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