Food sustainability is a hot topic in many spheres, not least in the Impact Hub London network. With resources depleting quickly across our exhausted planet, solutions need to evolve quickly and in response innovative initiatives are constantly emerging.

This spring has seen a sprinkling of events at Impact Hub Westminster focusing on this crucial area of human survival, including Cleanweb’s Food Sustainability Meet Up in April, and RE∙WORK’s “Future of Food Summit” earlier this week, which explored models for the future of food production, distribution and consumption.

There is also important work going on in our midst. Last week we featured a few of our very own Impact Hub Scholars on the blog, one of which is Sophie Andre, Founder of Elysia. Sophie’s scholarship has just ended, but we’re happy to announce that she will be staying on with us a member host. We caught up with her to hear a little more about her plans for Elysia.

Not one to hang around idly, Sophie arrived in London in January this year and has been on a whirlwind mission to get her social enterprise, Elysia, up and running since.

Her vision is to supply artisan breakfasts and snack packs (aperitifs) sourced primarily from surplus food to companies, events as well as individuals.

When the business is up and running, 30% of team members will be people with high barriers to employment. Sophie said: “I am planning a series of six-week training programmes for local people wanting to improve their employability. Topics will include marketing, customer service, logistics, nutrition, food safety, health and safety. From each training course, we will choose one person to join the Elysia team”. To do this, Sophie will join forces with community organisations to identify appropriate participants for the course and to support them throughout the process.

Sophie Andre, founder, Elysia.
Sophie Andre, founder, Elysia.

Propelled along by her Impact Scholarship and access to our network, she has managed to create multiple partnerships with artisan food producers and a business framework in a very short amount of time. Right now, she’s in the process of applying for funding for training and for bicycles; whilst she pedal powers her operation by pounding the streets of London to deliver bespoke breakfasts to companies and events. For now, Elysia is a petite affair but Sophie has big plans.

Word of mouth can travel fast and far, especially when Impact Hub Westminster members get the opportunity to test out new products, such as cheese from a new potential supplier at the Friday night Mix@Six community drinks event.

Sophie is always on the forage for new foodie connections. With a talent for sniffing out new artisan alliances at local London markets and countryside fairs alike she has a constant stream of potential new partners coming in.

Most of these partners sell their surplus to Sophie at cut price that allows them to cover costs plus a small margin. A couple of her suppliers run their operations in a way that eliminates surplus but Sophie is choosing to still feature these as examples of pioneers in the field, beacons of how things can be done to produce both top quality product and minimal waste.

If you’d like to know more about Elysia or perhaps order some of their lovely products, you can either find Sophie floating around Impact Hub Westminster or visit the website at Elysiacatering.com.

If you’re passionate about the food sustainability topic and would like to connect with the Impact Hub London community, we have a couple of events over the coming months that you may be interested it.

  • We’re hosting a film screening of the groundbreaking feature-length documentary Cowspiracy on 11th July at 6pm. Follow intrepid film maker Kip Anderson as he uncovers the most destructive industry facing the planet today – animal agriculture. Register for free here.
  • Impact Hub King’s Cross are hosting a series of ‘Food Talks’. Next up in the calendar is Fishy Business, on Thursday, 30th June. The events are organised in partnership with the Food Ethics CouncilOrganico and Think.Eat.Drink and the idea is to inspire dialogue and creative thinking about food sustainability.