The Food Chain is improving lives with a focus on nutrition and community support

The charity provides healthy grocery deliveries

The charity provides healthy grocery deliveries

It is said that small is beautiful, and in the case of one London charity, the personal attention given to service users is quite literally turning lives around.

The Food Chain has been running since 1988 and delivers healthy groceries, as well as offering communal eating events and nutritional advice, to people living with HIV in the capital. While effective treatments have been found to help people with HIV live with and manage the condition, many still come from low socio-economic backgrounds and experience food poverty, poor nutrition, depression, and social isolation.

A small, focused charity, The Food Chain receives referrals from healthcare professionals for people in crisis and works closely with them through diet and lifestyle assessments to give them health, nutritional and social support. Among its people, leading food writer (and winner of MasterChef: Battle of the Critics 2023) Jay Rayner is a patron of the charity, while FPJ contributing editor Michael Barker is a trustee.

Healthy eating

Fruit and veg are a central part of the nutritional mix, and the charity does not just provide them through the weekly grocery deliveries. The Food Chain also helps increase service users’ knowledge of how to cook and prepare fresh produce. Healthy food is a key element of the Eating Together and Eating Positively social events too, which offer hot meals, classes and access to donated food from City Harvest and The Felix Project.

“What The Food Chain does so well is combat social isolation,” explains chair of the board of trustees Chris Buckley, who works as HIV social care co-ordinator at the Jonathan Mann HIV clinic in London. “It creates a community where people start gaining confidence where previously they had none. That’s all done through the vehicle of food.”

In 2022/23, The Food Chain received 442 referrals, of which 70 per cent came directly from the NHS. All of those involved were described as living in crisis and in desperate need of intervention. There is no fat to trim at The Food Chain, where 89p of every £1 is spent directly on charitable activities. Currently two thirds of the charity’s income is from trusts and foundations. The rest comes from individual donors and community fundraising.

Corporate support

But against the backdrop of rising costs and declining statutory and grant funding, The Food Chain has had to cut its cloth by reducing the staff count, closing its café and capping services in the past year.

“We’ve done everything we can to cut costs and still deliver an exceptional service to those people we support, but we are not currently answering the call for everybody who needs us,” explains director of services and development Anna Brewster.

“We’d love to meet corporate supporters in the food sector who might like to get involved and help sustain and extend our work. A donation of just £1,000 is enough to completely change the course of someone’s life and pull them out of crisis, so we would urge companies and individuals to get in touch.”

More information on the charity’s work is available here, or to get involved as a corporate supporter you can find out more here or email