Members lunch at GCP

Members lunch at GCP

Members lunch
‘The most important part of our day’

‘At lunchtime, we all stop whatever we are doing, have a rest, sit down, eat, chat and make friends.

It is the most important part of our day when we all come together, catch up and find out what’s going on.’
Perry, Head of Members Services

Research from University of Oxford (2017) shows that the average adult eats almost half their meals alone. The same research also indicates that eating together increases self-esteem, social bonding, wellbeing, contentedness and importantly, a feeling of being embedded in a community.

At GCP, these are some of the reasons why Members lunches are loved. Importantly, tackling poverty, including Food Poverty is at the heart of what we do. For some, eating with us their only meal of the day.

On a recent dreich Monday in February, our story-catcher Caroline found out more about how the daily lunch gets from menu to the table, to the washing up!

Members lunch - discussing menu changes

A new year, a new menu

As with many things at GCP, Members get a say about their lunchtime menu. The meal usually starts with soup, followed by a main course.

A questionnaire at the start of 2024 revealed that many Members would also appreciate the occasional dessert. So, once a week, dessert is now served, including favourites like jam rolypoly, apple crumble and cheesecake.

During the Monday morning IT group coffee break, another valuable opportunity to chat and catch up, Caroline sat down with the IT crowd to see what they think of the new menu.

Sarah said she was loving the menu

‘There are more options and more of a mix to eat, it’s varied. It’s like a family and it’s great at the end of the month when I am a bit short, as I always get a decent meal here.’

Stevie echoed this sentiment saying,

The Grassmarket lunch is the only time I eat.’ 

Hassam loves the soup, mash and haggis and Christine, who is a new Member, says,

‘The soup is lovely, and it’s a nice way to chat with people.’

Most of the Members are keen on the new puddings, but Dave prefers a starter,

‘The soup is marvellous and very healthy.’

Gordon and Peter both need gluten-free food and stress how much they appreciate that there is always a tasty alternative for them.

It was great to see everyone tucking into lunch after their busy morning at GCP.

HSBC - GCP Super fan

Kelly prepares lunch

Chefs, Kevin (pictured) and Catherine agree a three-week rolling menu which balances healthy eating, quality food and a bit of fun, all on a budget.

The menu is published in the Weekly Bulletin and in the Grassmarket Centre. Lunchtime numbers can vary from a quiet day, maybe 23 to over 35 for a busy lunch.

Preparation starts early in the kitchen as our chefs juggle serving orders to paying customers for Coffee Saints at the Grassmarket.

On Caroline’s recent visit, chef Kelly was well organised in her pristine kitchen, preparing salads and coleslaw to accompany the main meal of the day which was pizza. Kelly started working at GCP in September 2023,

I love it here. I love the job and interacting with everyone. The staff are friendly, and I feel like I fit in.’

At 11am volunteer Elsa confirmed the numbers for the day and any allergies.

Members Lunch - Elsa volunteering


Whilst Kelly works hard in the kitchen, volunteers and staff help set up the tables. Lunch starts promptly at 1pm when the trolley comes in with the soup and bread.

Everyone then settles down for their two-courses, juice and tea or coffee. The room can get noisy as everyone chats about their morning and life in general.

Staff enjoy lunch too. Perry finds it is the best time he can sit down and chat casually with Members and volunteers. Similarly Jon, who runs our Wood Workshop, says,

‘It’s always been part of our ethos to sit down together and share a part of the day. I enjoy it when I go.’

Louis, from Coffee Saints agrees,

‘I love the social aspect of lunches, seeing everyone eating together.’

We welcome visitors to join us for lunch too. Our Corporate Volunteers often comment on lunchtime being the highlight of their day. Catrin from Phoenix Group confirmed,

‘My favourite time was at lunch when we saw the benefits of the work we are doing and got to talk to GCP Members.’

Volunteers who were nervous felt so much happier after lunch, as Jennifer from HSBC agreed,

‘I was worried at first and I didn’t want to say the wrong thing, but I soon grew in confidence when I realised how friendly everyone is. Everyone was so open and just chatted away.’ 

Everyone at HSBC enjoyed their ‘proper baked potatoes’ too!

Clearing up

Lunch usually takes 45 minutes then all the empty plates are wheeled back to the kitchen on the trolley. There is rarely a problem washing up!  On most weekdays, the kitchen staff get help from our Members who enjoy supporting the chefs.

Peter, who has worked as a kitchen porter at several hotels in the past, including the Balmoral, loves the GCP kitchen,

‘My favourite thing is doing the dishes, I’m really good at it and Kelly and Kev are so nice to work with.’

Everyone in the kitchen agrees Peter is a washing up superstar!

Peter washing up

Sharing meals together

Members lunch is not the only meal provided by GCP. Every Wednesday evening, GCP opens its doors to feed anyone in the city who needs a meal. Our Open Door Meals is an essential service. In 2023 alone, we served over 2000 meals.

On Thursday evenings, members and volunteers get together for Souper Thursday, which can be accompanied by a quiz, snooker and table tennis, plus occasional guest entertainers.

And of course, anyone can come and eat at our fabulous Coffee Saints cafes.  Both cafes are social enterprises so every breakfast, lunch or coffee you buy helps support GCP in its support of those who need it most.

Fund and Sponsor GCP Member Activities

How to support GCP

Please help us to keep providing support and opportunities to vulnerable people. There are various ways you can support our community. You can donate, fund or sponsor, support our social enterprises and volunteer.

Donate >>   
Fund and Sponsor >>

Support our Social Enterprises

Wood Workshop >>
Tartan Shop >>
Event Hire Service >>
Visit Coffee Saints >>

AND follow, like and share on our Socials


The Grassmarket Community Project’s Members Programme relies on the generosity of our customers, funders and donors. Our key funders for this area of our work are Nationwide Community Grants, The Robertson Trust and EVOC/Scottish Government Communities Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund. We thank them for their essential continued support.

Nationwide Building Society Community Grants
The Robertson Trust
EVOC logo
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