The Challenge

All children deserve the right to be healthy, no matter where they grow up. This includes access to enough, nutritious food. But many urban areas with a high proportion of families living on a lower average income are flooded with unhealthy food options. Healthy food is nearly three times more expensive than unhealthy food and, as low-income households spend a larger proportion than average of their income on food, they are more affected by any increases in food prices.Without action to ensure healthier options are available and affordable, people – particularly those living on a low income – will be pushed towards the unhealthy food and drink that floods cities like London and contributes to health inequalities.

Our response

We created a series of affordable, ‘better everyday takeaway’ brands serving up proper meals that were delicious, loved by kids and better for you. After quickly adapting our operations to respond to the Covid crisis in early 2020, we forged links with community-embedded networks for distribution and decided to pivot to make ready meals that families could access in different, convenient locations.

Shift have got under the skin of the challenge in terms of understanding the nutrition of takeaways meals, the role this food plays in people’s lives, the nature of the businesses involved and how their owners relate to them. They are crystal clear on what we can (and can’t) hope to influence and what we have to work with in order to effect change.

Adrian Phillips, Director of Public Health, Birmingham City Council

So far…

  • 10+ years making fast food healthier
  • Ethnographic research with 44 families to understand the role takeaway plays in their lives
  • Co-design and development with parents, food industry experts and brand creatives
  • Online tests reaching 129,066 parents to validate the proposition
  • 11 week full service ‘Family Feeds’ prototype in Erdington to test market demand
  • Rebooted, rebranded pilot launched in South London in late 2019
  • Covid response with meals distributed through local community networks
  • More than 20,000 tasty, healthier meals provided
  • Reporting on three years work in South London



Making a Meal

April 21, 2023

Learning and reflections from three years making affordable good food for families.

Hot, prepared revolution: A summary of two years work looking at takeaways

December 17, 2018

Shift has developed the UK’s most detailed understanding of takeaway food, families’ relationship with it, the role hot, prepared food plays in their food behaviours, the economics of outlets and the motivations of their owners. Possible avenues for positive change have been tested and the way forward is clear.

Chicken Shops: Fuelling London’s Youth

October 2, 2013

Infographic on the prevalence and effect of fast food outlets

Tori Flower and Kate Ferrier

Chicken Shops and Poor Diets

October 1, 2013

Summary of research findings including behavioural observation, survey of young people, local environment mapping, ethnography, chicken shop business profiling

Tori Flower and Tayo Medupin


Box Chicken Launch

Hadrian Garrard from Create London and Nick Stanhope discuss the need for practical interventions to tackle poor diets at the launch of Box Chicken, a pilot of a healthy fast food outlet.



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