Covid lockdown forces Preston cafe to change its role

Preston's Larder cafe is set to be transformed into an ecob hub, wholefood deli and community arts venue.
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​The social enterprise says it is extending and changing the Lancaster Road venue's role following the Covid lockdown.

A relaunch celebration is planned for next month - two days after Larder founder and director Kay Johnson receives her MBE at Windsor Castle.

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Spokeswoman Ruby Henderson said: "The Covid period has been a long 18 months for us all...We’ve tried to be there for our community and provide what was needed, whether it was food, fun or just something else to focus on. After several attempts to reopen our lovely café as it was, we had to face facts that the footfall was not going to return and we came to the very difficult decision that it wasn’t going work anymore.

Kay Johnson pictured preparing for a Hot Pot CookalongKay Johnson pictured preparing for a Hot Pot Cookalong
Kay Johnson pictured preparing for a Hot Pot Cookalong

"We dried our tears and got back to the drawing board, we listened to our learners, our meal recipients, our wonderful volunteers and anyone who would speak to us and came up with a plan! We are building on our many successes and will continue to be a resource that Preston needs."

Ruby said that they had stayed busy in lockdown and responded to the challenge: "At The Larder we have busied ourselves by responding to the situation in a number of inventive ways; from Cooking for Our Community, online cooking classes through our Kids in the Kitchen scheme, our hugely successful Hot Pot Cook Along as well as delivering our accredited catering courses online, piloting food voucher schemes, and all the successes of Art At The Larder with our outward facing art exhibitions."

The "Larder Re-Envisioned" is due to open at the end of November.

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The LARDER (Lancashire And Region Dietary Education Resource.) has been a pioneering organisation, in particular creating courses and providing resources to enable youngsters to learn how to cook nurtritious food with affordable ingredients. It has worked to cut pupils' school holiday hunger, brought different community groups together and has flown the flag for locally produced and purchased food.

The Larder cafe on Lancaster Road, PrestonThe Larder cafe on Lancaster Road, Preston
The Larder cafe on Lancaster Road, Preston

Kay, a nutritionist, chef and food campaigner was awarded her honour “for services to food nutrition and the community in Lancashire” in the Queen's Birthday Honours 2020.

The Larder was created as a social enterprise by Kay in 2015 following the drawing up of a Lancashire Sustainable Food Charter. In 2019 the co--operative Larder Cafe opened. its doors on Lancaster Road.

* In November 2020 the Larder hosted the city’s first ever community Cook Along encouraging families to support local food producers.Using a live stream video families were taught how to make a Lancashire hotpot using ingredients sourced within a 30 mile radius.