Feed Me Good is a women-led social enterprise with a mission to diminish health inequality in the UK and dismantle the systems in place that caused it. Nureen Glaves, founder and CEO of Feed Me Good, combats health inequality by providing accessible education to her community. With years of experience as a public health nutritionist, Glaves is able to craft quality programmes on health, nutrition and life skills for all ages. (Currently, they are hosting a free online life skills course for all ages from Nov. 2nd- Dec. 17th.) I recently got the opportunity to interview Glaves and gain insight on Feed Me Good’s mission and the processes in which she hopes to fulfil the enterprise’s goals.
To start, I wanted to learn more about Glaves’ journey from working as a public nutritionist to founding her own social enterprise. Why did she choose to start Feed Me Good as opposed to continuing work in public health? What were the core motivations that prompted her to start this enterprise? Glaves started her career in catering and hospitality, before moving on to work in the diet and health sector. She studied food science and nutrition at uni while balancing multiple part-time jobs in food sales (‘You know those people at Tesco’s asking you to try food samples? That was me.’) She moved on to working in NHS as a public food nutritionist as it combined two of her passions; in her words, ‘chef plus science’. Throughout her career, Glaves has been surrounded by people from a multitude of socioeconomic backgrounds and has always been conscious of London’s multicultural population. It was this consciousness that sparked the creation of Feed Me Good. Glaves observed that ignorance of culture and lack of resources was a huge cause for lack of health education in the UK in regards to POC communities. She also noticed inadequacies within the UK’s current national health programme;
‘If you look at the Eat Well Plate*, there are no [culturally] diverse foods – no cassava, ube, etc… That’s why I believe there should be multiple Eat Well Plates because London alone is so diverse in ethnicities. We actually have a black and ethnic Eat Well Plate in the works…Healthy eating in the UK is not inclusive.’
[*The Eat Well Plate is a healthy eating visual guide set up by UK govt., for health education and general public]
Glaves decided to start Feed Me Good to ‘make the language of healthy eating understandable for the black and ethnic communities regardless of their background’. One of Feed Me Good’s latest educational projects is their children’s programme (ChEP) which has been implemented in Chalkhill Primary’s curriculum as of February. During the interview, Glaves outlined what this programme entails, her experience teaching the pupils and her future hopes for ChEP;
‘ChEP essentially has 4 aspects: life skills vs behavioural changes, low income vs quality of health, diet vs education performance and healthy eating/understanding within the black community…I try to really learn about my pupils and ask about their culture – how to make their recipes…[ChEP is] a celebration of food and passing knowledge through the community. What I want, is to gather more data on the children’s programme and prove that it is making a positive difference. We have plans to have ChEP in another primary in Suffolk and compare results to Chalkhill and back up this programme with good statistics. I’m actually working with West London College for another educational programme for older students… (Talking about ChEP’s end goal) ‘I really want to see ChEP in the national curriculum.’
On top of this, Feed Me Good has been providing free school lunches to Chalkhill’s pupils during the half-term. When asked why she chose to do this, Glaves answers, ‘I knew the government wouldn’t give adequate food budget to schools and parents [to buy meals with] enough nutrition [for the children].’
I believe this to be a very important factor to note, as it shows genuine care for these pupils’ welfare. While educating and teaching people how to combat disparities on their own is key to solving social issues, it’s equally important to give them the physical resources they need, with no cost or conditions. Give a man a fish, he eats for a day; teach a man to fish and he eats for his whole life – Feed Me Good, in true spirit of compassion, has done both.
Since Feed Me Good values are strongly based on aiding black and POC communities, I had to ask of Glaves’ own experience being a woman of colour in the social enterprise industry and the irony of the white-centring rhetoric that is present in a sector that aims to solve social issue;
‘[A white-washed narrative] definitely exists… It’s frustrating to be overlooked compared to my white counterparts, going to events and being like ‘wow everyone else is white’…I’ll give you an example: I went to this social enterprise event with my assistant at the time, who was white and as we were greeted by the hosts, they assumed that SHE was the CEO and I was the assistant – it’s just micro-aggressions like that.’
(On the future of social enterprises) ‘Definitely, [social enterprises] are leaders of social change – we definitely provide long-term aid which separates us from charities and such…I would like to see more government funding in social enterprises – charities and local authorities tend to get the most funds and it does feel like we get the crumbs but I think social enterprises can make more of a permanent difference. And, yes, I definitely would like more policy work for the government…And when I think of Feed Me Good, I really think of it as a global enterprise...I see her – I like to call it a ‘her’ – operating on a worldwide scale, y’know what I mean? And partnering with different organisations and corporations…I definitely see it as a global enterprise…’
When I first reached out to Glaves, I had hopes of learning more about Feed Me Good on a corporate level; however, by the end of it, I gained insight on Feed Me Good’s inner workings as both a business and an ideal. Seeing a problem, taking initiative to fix it and involving your community in the solutions is at the banal function of all social enterprises and is evidently demonstrated in Feed Me Good and in the character of Glaves herself. Author: Elle Villa - Irish Transition Year student from Sutton Park and intern at Supply Change