Everything comes together at Foodhall
Graduates' cafe co-op exemplifies University values.
We teach the value of civic responsibility. We encourage social entrepreneurship. And we provide support for those who want to make a difference.
When all those efforts combine to benefit a community, the difference they make can be profound. This is what happens every Thursday–Saturday when graduates Louis Pohl (architecture) and Jamie Wilde (town planning) lift the shutters at Foodhall, the non-profit cafe that changes the way we see the city, and each other.
Foodhall is a force for good: a city cafe that brings together people from different backgrounds, including students, the elderly, and the homeless.
Run by volunteers who prepare and serve food, paid for on a pay-as-you-feel basis, Foodhall is a force for good. A city centre cafe that brings together people from different backgrounds, including students, the elderly, and the homeless. It is about feeding people.
But it is also about reducing food waste and helping those who feel isolated.
Louis and Jamie were inspired by academic research into the social benefits of communal eating. They were supported by the ReNew initiative, a partnership between Sheffield's two universities, the council and others that helps people turn out-of-use city centre shops into vibrant enterprises.
In a virtuous circle, Foodhall contributes to and benefits from the curriculum that inspired it, with architecture students working on the cafe's branding as a live project in the department. Louis and Jamie are also working with the University of Sheffield Students' Union, using what they’ve learned to develop a wellbeing cafe on campus.
Design that makes a difference to our city
Foodhall won the Small Projects Award at the Sheffield Design Awards 2016 which celebrates the most innovative, efficient and beautiful designs around our city.
Small Projects Award for innovative design
Louis Pohl and Jamie Wilde launched their freecycle food network to find new ways to engage the wider community through shared food. The project won for its innovative design and flexible space, all created on a minimal budget. Transformed from an old funeral director's office, the building now features a full kitchen and a friendly, colourful dining space.
Henry Tufton, a student volunteer, said: "Foodhall is the most successful space I have ever seen for creating a sense of community between people from vastly different backgrounds.
"There aren't many places where it is typical for an elderly person, a student and a middle-aged rough sleeper to be enjoying a meal together around a table.
"Foodhall exists in opposition to a prevailing culture of waste and social isolation. The building proves that design can have a positive effect on social and emotional wellbeing and that is why it is great that Foodhall is being recognised by the Sheffield Design Awards."