Food Train is a volunteer-led service founded on a very simple idea – if older people get support to meet their needs such as accessing quality food and social contact they will be healthier, happier and retain their independence for much longer.

Formed in 1995 in Dumfries and Galloway by a small group of self-organising volunteers with little more than a great idea and a lot of will and determination, Food Train’s popularity quickly grew throughout the region. The first service launched by Food Train remains their core service to this day – a volunteer-led grocery shopping and delivery service.

Food Train help with every aspect of organising and delivering their member’s weekly shopping order. Their teams of list takers phone their members to help them organise their shopping list and their teams of shoppers, who are based within the supermarkets partnered with Food Train, and volunteers make their way around the supermarket making up the orders, processing the groceries through the checkout, and box up all the orders ready for collection.

Delivery volunteers then collect the orders from the supermarket and deliver the orders directly into the homes of Food Train members. Regularly volunteers offer additional support including putting items away into fridge, freezers and cupboards, they will also loosen bottle tops, put lids on jars and all of the other common shopping jobs to help where required.

Food Train will also help with other practical odd jobs where they can when out on delivery, for example helping change lightbulbs, resetting clocks, and taking out the recycling have all been known to take place on a Food Train delivery.

It is this community approach that separates Food Train from all other services.

Most grocery delivery services are only accessible online, which the majority of Food Train members don’t have access to. Volunteers also spend time with customers, identify their needs and can recognise concerns (for example declines in health, or hazards in the house). Food Train maintains excellent links with social work, health and care providers, and a whole host of other organisations meaning that if volunteers do report concerns about customers they are ideally placed to take swift action to have these concerns addressed.

The service expanded beyond Dumfries and Galloway in 2010 and today the grocery shopping service runs in 10 Local Authority areas in Scotland. Food Train has now become a ’one-stop shop’ for older people to receive all the practical support they need.

The range of services provided by Food Train has increased dramatically over the years now offering nationwide services through their ‘Connects Team’ which includes the neighbourhood meal sharing project ‘Meal Makers’ whereby volunteers share food and friendship with older adults in their local area, a one to one shopping service, and a telephone befriending service called ‘Phone Friends’.

Where grocery shopping service is delivered branches have increased their services and provide the befriending service ‘Food Train Friends’ which includes one to one visits and group outings and an ‘At Home’ service whereby volunteers support older adults with practical tasks around the home including, hoovering, dusting and changing bed sheets.

The team has also launched a national project called ‘Eat Well Age Well’ to tackle malnutrition in older people living in Scotland and has been developing initiatives in collaboration with a wide range of agencies to reduce malnutrition and make a vital difference in the lives of older people. The Food Train Stirling and Clackmannanshire branch has been running for over 10 years and has made over 50,000 deliveries since setting up in November 2011. They are currently launching ‘Food Train Friends’ and Food Train ‘At Home’.

If you would like to find out more about their services or find out about volunteering opportunities please contact the office on 01786 450 536 or

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