National Food Service Bristol’s Principles

The National Food Service (NFS) is a network of food justice projects across the UK.

Each branch is autonomous but also works in unison with other branches to grow new projects and to pressure state and non-state organisations to improve food policy. These are the principles of NFS Bristol, which are in line with the principles of the national network.


Our vision is a world free from food insecurity, social inequality, social isolation and food waste.


Our mission is to create safe community spaces where food is freely offered as a public service.

Core principles 

Our principles are the essence of NFS Bristol’s identity and summarise the purpose of our existence. They guide us on how NFS Bristol should operate and develop, they support our vision, shape the culture and reflect what we as an organisation value. These principles enable us to build our membership on common values, nurture the right partnerships, guide us in our decision making and ultimately deliver our work. 

  1. Solidarity, not charity 
  2. For and by the community 
  3. We organise democratically
  4. Collaborative, not competitive 
  5. Healthy and sustainable food  
  6. Innovation and learning
  7. Diversity and inclusion 

Solidarity, not charity 

We’re a grassroots movement. Each branch is built locally by the community for the community. We believe in mutual aid, not charity. Charity is vertical, mutual aid is horizontal. Charity addresses symptoms of systemic issues, mutual aid builds new social relations.

For and by the community 

We believe in community, not philanthropy. The NFS is NOT a food bank or ‘network of food banks’. A food bank separates the supposedly poor from the rest of society because they can’t afford the market provision. The NFS is for everybody, of every social bracket. We are answerable to and driven by the communities we operate in with an ultimate goal to be funded by our community, those who donate to us, those who support us, and those who eat with us. 

We organise democratically 

NFS Bristol works towards being fully democratic. No time is wasted on adversarial debate. Decisions should not be reduced to for versus against. The status quo should not be the default position against which you have to argue for change. Energy must not be wasted arguing the intricacies of things we don’t know.

Collaborative, not competitive 

We are not in competition with other projects in the city. NFS Bristol should not aim to compete but to appreciate what is good about other projects and support them to grow. We are part of a network and all parts of that network have value. We actively seek to create meaningful partnerships and share resources we have for the greater community good. 

Healthy and sustainable food 

We believe in food with a low environmental footprint but big health impact. We aim for low waste, locally sourced, nutritious and of course tasty food. Social cooking and eating are important to us, sharing our love of food builds community and fosters connections.  

Innovation and learning 

We are a flexible, creative and responsive to the changing needs of the communities we operate in. We are not afraid to take a risk, try new things and cultivate individuals to lead new initiatives. We do not always have to be right but seek to learn and develop in all we do. We are constantly evolving.   

Diversity and inclusion 

We are passionate about promoting and supporting diversity and value everyone in the organisation as an individual. We work hard to cultivate an inclusive environment where everyone feels able to participate and achieve their potential. We care about supporting people’s well-being and engagement and strive to review and improve our approach in order to do so.