National charity FoodCycle released a survey which says that almost half of their guests often eat alone but 85% make friends at their weekly community meals.
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Today the national charity aiming to make social isolation a thing of the past, FoodCycle, unveils the results of a recent survey revealing that almost half of their guests (44%) eat most meals alone and 72% admit to feeling lonely.

Conducted at the end of 2023, the survey underpins the need for services which tackle the UK’s loneliness pandemic by forging positive connection in local communities. The results suggest that FoodCycle’s community meals model works – with 92% of the 1448 guests surveyed leaving weekly meals feeling happier, 88% feeling more part of their community and 84% feeling less lonely.

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A FoodCycle guest said: “I've been alone all my life. Grew up in care. At 13, I was on the streets and still am 26 years later. I find I don't fit in. I'm 47 now and have no one, but when I come to FoodCycle, I feel so welcome.”

FoodCycle guestsFoodCycle guests
FoodCycle guests

Celebrating its 15th birthday this year, FoodCycle has been nourishing communities with food and conversation since 2009. The national charity currently operates 83 projects across England and Wales bringing together thousands of volunteers every week to transform surplus food into healthy, delicious meals for anyone that would like them, no questions asked. By the end of 2024, the food charity will have dished up 3.5 million community meals over the last 15 years and they hope to have their weekly meals running in 100 locations.

The recent survey also included 1,093 FoodCycle volunteers, 64% of whom listed tackling loneliness as an incentive to sign up. Giving back to the community resulted in positive outcomes for the volunteers themselves; with 77% reporting meeting people from different backgrounds, 40% saying they made friends and 31% saying volunteering improved their mental health.

One FoodCycle volunteer said: “As relatively new to the UK, it has given me an opportunity to meet new people and make a difference in the community. I love cooking and FoodCycle has given me an opportunity to use my skills effectively."

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According to the Campaign to End Loneliness Report published in June 2023, 7.1% (3.83 billion) of the UK’s population is chronically lonely. In the same month, the UK Office for National Statistics Opinions and Lifestyle Survey revealed 26% UK adults reported they feel lonely often.

FoodCycle volunteersFoodCycle volunteers
FoodCycle volunteers

FoodCycle CEO, Sophie Tebbetts said: This year’s guest and volunteer survey confirms what our teams see every single week. Empowering communities to share great food and conversation in a warm and welcoming space positively impacts social isolation. The latest national figures report rising numbers of people feeling lonely often and we believe FoodCycle’s community dining model can play a huge part in tackling this pandemic.”

To find your local community meal visit

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