These are tough times for everyone but for the food and drink sector, the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdown, could be disastrous and mark the end of eating out as we know it.
A group of food traders in Leeds Market, including Bánh & Mee Vietnamese Street Kitchen, Fat Annie’s and Kanassa, amongst others, have decided to take things into their own hands by developing the Kirkgate Collective. This is a platform that, in the future, will provide the traders with the opportunity to sell their food to the Leeds community whilst also supporting each other through the tricky times.
I spoke to Anna from Kanassa this week about the Kirkgate Collective and the group’s plans for the future. Anna explained that the idea had been brewing for a few months, since the traders were all keen to support each other. But the plans have only come to fruition recently because the traders have had more time to get together (virtually) to discuss how to get the collective off the ground.
The traders were motivated to come up with a solution to trade safely and sustainably. Their idea, which is still in its infancy, is to develop a uniform collection and/or delivery service to enable people to enjoy food from any one of the traders in the Kirkgate Street Food Market easily and simply from their homes. This, Anna explained, would help to maintain the communal side of the market by giving families a choice of food options which they could enjoy together.
The group is still in the early stages of developing of the Collective. So far, they have created an online platform to showcase the traders, telling the stories behind the food, and linking everyone together in a community. The collective also just launched their social media platforms (Facebook and Instagram) where they are planning to announce updates.
Some help is needed
As with any new initiative, the group is facing logistical difficulties in their ambitions to move the collective forward. Whilst the multiple traders have lots of ideas and skills, they do not have experience in developing a website, building a delivery platform, dealing with the social distancing regulations or managing the complexities of delivering hot, cold and pre-made foods from multiple sites. Anna and I chatted about how people in Leeds could help. We discussed possible ways of crowdsourcing skills and hiring delivery drivers. If you could help with such things, then why not get in touch with the Kirkgate Collective via their social media platforms?
And if you would like to support the collective in other ways, then follow the Kirkgate Collective and each of the individual traders on social media to spread the word. You could also support the traders individually, for example by purchasing vouchers or by ordering their pre-made products online.
Food at Kirkgate market: https://www.leeds.gov.uk/leedsmarkets/street-food-at-kirkgate
Kirkgate Collective (Facebook): https://www.facebook.com/kirkgatecollective