Food Nation:

Kim Mead of motive8 looks at the social enterprise inspiring people about good food

Food Nation is a social enterprise providing hands-on cooking and growing courses to schools, businesses and communities across Newcastle and the surrounding area. Their vision is 'inspiring people about good food', recognising that inspiration comes not only from providing the knowledge about food and nutrition, but providing a comfortable, equipped environment in which to independently learn, grow confident, and reconnect with and get wise about food.

motive8 have long admired Food Nation’s ethos and dedication to the cause and are exploring ways in which to develop the partnership to enrich motive8’s nutritional education across various services.


James is the co-founder and Managing Director of Food Nation. Brought up in a family run restaurant near York, he was inspired and taught how to cook by his father up until he left the family business to go to university. In 2005 James graduated with an honours degree in Food and Human Nutrition from the University of Newcastle.

Straight after graduating, James was motivated to set-up a new project to improve the diet of school children in disadvantaged communities in the East End of Newcastle. He raised £250, bought juicing equipment and opened a fresh fruit smoothie bar in Walkergate Primary School.

Two years later he had successfully opened a further eight smoothie bars and teamed up with a dairy in County Durham to open primary school milk bars across the city. The project was becoming recognised as one of the up-and-coming food, nutrition and health organisations in Newcastle and was awarded contracts by Newcastle Primary Care Trust and City Council to develop its work.

In 2013, nine years after initially setting up Food Nation, the organisation was highly commended by the Royal Society for Public Health and awarded a 'Health and Wellbeing Award' in recognition of achievement in implementing health promotion and community wellbeing strategies. The RSPH stated the following: "Food Nation is an empowering, creative and joined up organisation which has established a commitment to the health and wellbeing of vulnerable communities in Newcastle. Its community engagement strategy is to be commended for its innovation and authenticity."

In addition to his professional work with Food Nation James is also studying towards an MSc in Food Policy at City University, London. His dissertation is focusing on what government policy can do to improve fast food takeaway restaurants.

Inspired by his Masters, James has taken responsible for leading the initial development and delivery of Newcastle's first ever food focused partnership – Food Newcastle. Food Newcastle is a cross-sector partnership of organisations and businesses who jointly recognise the pivotal role food can play in driving positive social, economic and environmental change across Newcastle and beyond.

In January 2014 Newcastle was chosen as one of only 6 UK cities to receive support from the Sustainable Food City Network and the Esmee Fairburn Foundation to develop this work further over the next 3 years.

James has also secured a place at the prestigious London School of Social Entrepreneurs(SSE). Its mission is to address inequalities and social exclusion by supporting social entrepreneurs to transform their talent into real social outcomes, in the form of sustainable solutions to poverty and disadvantage in communities.

It does this through the use of action-learning based programmes of personal and organisational development. SSE supports individuals to realise their potential and to establish, scale and sustain, social enterprises and social businesses across the UK, Australia, Ireland and Canada.

James loves all sport (playing and watching) and is training towards a triathlon next summer as well as numerous cycling sportives with his brother and other members of the motive8 team.

The above article by Kim Mead first published on in 2015.