Gussie’s was originally set up in April 2016 to provide a community social space every Tuesday early evening for members from the local area to come together and share a meal together. Ingredients for the meal were sourced from FairShare, a food redistributor which receives surplus food from across the food industry and provides it to charities and community groups for a fee determined by the weight of the food delivered.

Since that time Gussie’s has evolved into a community supermarket redistributing the food from FairShare to the increasing number of families facing food poverty within the area. The original social eating vision has been lost as it has responded to growing deprivation, food poverty and hunger within the community.

This area ranks 707 out of 12,382, and therefore falls within the most deprived decile nationally (Index of Multiple Deprivation in England, 2019).


Members of Redeemer King (RK) have long-term involvement in volunteering support with Gussie’s, and as an organisation we are partnering with Gussie’s to provision a wrap-around care team in support of Gussie’s’ families wider support needs.

In the Summer 2022 RK was asked by the management of Gussie’s if we would develop a Supper Club (named Open Table) in response to today’s social and economic challenges and families in the area struggling with the cost of utilities and unable to afford to cook at home beyond the microwave.

It was agreed that RK would develop a kitchen and front-of-house team and provide a nutritional two-course meal, within a refectory-style setting, where families and individuals of all ages could come together in a supportive social setting and share in an attractive and creative eating experience.

The Open Table feeds between 38-55 individuals of all ages each Wednesday evening across this period of operation from October 2022 to the present day.

As a reflection, Open Table feeds 44% as an average across the period of those presently utilising Gussie’s on a weekly basis. It must equally be stated that in this picture some who attend the Open Table do not use Gussie’s but come for the social experience of a shared meal and for other reasons this time offers them.


The original goal of this initiative has always been focused on a positive and supportive social eating experience with meals carefully crafted and creatively presented as reflected in Chesterfield’s restaurant culture to provide an exciting and inspirational experience of social eating.

Additionally, the goal of the Open Table is to foster the experience of a meal not simply as refuelling for the hungry, which is an essential component of the present provisions; but equally as an opportunity for developing shared social relationships at a family and community level.

Across our period of operation we have also received a significant number of requests from community members to become involved in the Open Table and develop the kitchen skills to create healthy meals for their families at home.

We presently have three young members of the community undertaking their Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award volunteering alongside us both in the kitchen team and front-of-house team, but the facilities we currently access for the initiative and limitations of access do not allow us to develop wider involvement beyond our current scope of operations.


The premises we are presently using, based at St Augustine’s Church, are not sustainability fit-for-purpose for preparing and serving meals at the scale required, and the wider body of the facility is necessarily given over to Gussie’s food pantry. This significantly restricts the space available for seating for the Supper Club, which is located at the far end of the building some distance from the kitchen. Access to the building and facilities is also limited to the day of the meal.

Increasingly, the essentials for creating a healthy meal from FairShare and local supermarkets end-of-shelf-life donations have become scarce and rare. Without donations from supporters it would not have been possible to provide a meaningful meal some weeks.

Additionally, two local schools have requested to partner with the Open Table initiative in support of their children and families struggling with food poverty by developing an after school club, providing a meals-based activity program in school holidays and engaging with parents and children in coming together, learning new skills in preparing and cooking simple and enjoyable healthy meals in a friendly and supportive social setting. In the present location these further developments are not possible.


The goal is to locate the Open Table to the nearby Birdholme Working Men’s Club, which is a long-standing and familiar community facility with safe outdoor and multi-use indoor space and accessibility to accommodate and enable the expansion needed to sustain the present and develop expanding community support at the heart of Birdholme.

Presently, the Club does not have the necessary facilities to enable this relocation and project development but is wholly supportive of the initiative and its value for the community. We are therefore working towards the purchase of essential professional kitchen equipment and appliances. These units would be self-contained and mobile to enable flexible use in line with the nature and location of the event being delivered with indoor and outdoor capacity.


The Open Table already has made a positive and valued difference for residents in the Rother Ward Chesterfield where there are many families who are long-term unemployed or on low incomes. It enables the social aspect of coming together with others and enjoying a meal served to them reducing social isolation; it provides social support with dignity for families facing food poverty and access to wrap-around additional care.

With the appropriate space and facilities, it will provide a further accessible and encouraging opportunity for members of the community to get involved in the Open Table and learn the skills for preparing healthy meals for their families and become part of an initiative that is bringing people together and rebuilding community relationships with dignity and purpose.