Cafe Derby feeds the hungry with healthy vegan dishes

Derby town center is home to a plethora of small restaurants, but tucked away in the Stay Well center at St Mary’s Gate is a small cafe trying to make a big difference.

Sprout, the community co-op cafe, has been in operation since November 2021 and offers wholesome, vegan-only and allergen-free food, meaning customers can eat there knowing they’re getting a healthy, nutritious meal.

And with main courses costing no more than £5, those making the trip also get excellent value for money.

The friendly space is open to everyone, whether they are those who already use the centre’s services or passers-by looking for a healthy meal.

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When you first enter the building, don’t be surprised to be greeted by a handful of smiles from staff and customers. New faces are welcomed as regulars here.

The room is decorated in earthy and neutral tones, and the comfortable armchairs, cushions and garlands help to create a warm and friendly atmosphere.

A quick glance at the board behind the counter will show you what the kitchen is up to.

All of the ingredients here are grown locally by Sprout growers, Brendan and Karl. They are also all ethically sourced, meaning the dishes can be enjoyed guilt-free.

Sprout serves up well-loved dishes including bean chilies, homemade pies, risottos and fishless fish cakes.

Jo, one of the five founders of Sprout, said: “We just wanted to create a lovely, pleasant space where people can come.

The café is used by the general public, but also by people who come to the center for the support groups and sessions offered.

“I think as an organization we wanted to be able to reach as many people with healthy eating and nutrition.

“We really wanted to be able to empower people to really make good food choices.” Jo added.

The idea for Sprout was born in April last year by seven people who all share a similar passion for nurturing and educating the Derby community about health and wellbeing.

It evolved over time, and when it first partnered with StayWell, the plan was to serve take-out at the center one day a week on a donation-based model.

It has since transformed into a fully functional cafe, offering sweet treats alongside full meals.

In fact, one customer we spoke to described their food as “a hug on a plate”.

The restaurant offers many programs to help those who visit them, one of which is “pay it forward”, where customers can contribute extra money when they purchase a meal to help cover the costs of someone’s meal. another.

Those wishing to use the system can simply choose a ticket from the board next to the entrance and claim a free meal, “no questions asked”.

“They are for anyone who is really struggling.

“Maybe it’s towards the end of the month and they don’t quite have enough money and they just really need a decent meal.

“They can just walk in, take one off the board, bring it to the counter.

“We’re also now offering free soup on Saturdays on top of what we serve, and people love that, so we’re going to continue.”

Looking ahead, Sprout hopes to continue proving a safe space for the people of Derby, whatever their circumstances or circumstances, as well as serving tasty and sustainable food.

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