Rachel Karasik May 24, 2012

Casserole is live in Beta!

Rachel Karasik

Editor’s note: this is an early version one of the site so we’re looking for feedback on how we can make Casserole the best darn social cooking site going. So please drop our project lead Murtz a line with any thoughts. Thanks!

Home-cooked food made by neighbours for neighbours.

Donate a dinner or charge a little – the choice is yours!

Guess what? Casserole is in Beta! As of yesterday afternoon, our new site – www.casseroleclub.com - is alive and kicking, awaiting new members to share and order food with others in their community. The Casserole Crew have been working around the clock to get it up and running, and we are keen to have people using the site and service as soon as possible!

This new site is our Beta site, meaning it’s version one of the service – it is laying the groundwork for how we build and develop Casserole and is only our starting point. We hope to add new features, improve what’s already there and hone the service based on how things go with this first step. This first iteration is the most basic version of the service, but we have to start somewhere right?

Some of the features on the new site include:

~ personal member profiles
~ a postcode search to find other members in your area
~ the ability to upload meals to share
~ the ability to order meals from those nearby

Alongside features, we’re also testing some new aspects of the service:

~ the option to put a price on your meal as reimbursement for ingredients
~ a much more open platform that allows anyone to order and cook meals

Image: Casserole homepage

The reasons for these changes and developments have come from many conversations and observations, and are based on the grounds that we are trying to create a service that is sustainable, able to strengthen local communities and support those who are most in need of the service. For instance, people without access to the web are still able to use Casserole as before, through our phone and texting service, only now we have a much easier way to find and connect them with cooks in their area.

During our piloting stage, we were focused solely on the town of Redhill, Surrey and its immediate surroundings. With our launch into Beta, we’re expanding this focus to all of Reigate and Banstead, expanding out to all of Surrey (and beyond!) in the near future. This means we will be mainly working to establish a strong Casserole community within Reigate and Banstead, before venturing further afield. With this said, the new Casserole site is technically open for anyone from anywhere in the UK to use. So if you live outside of Reigate and Banstead, but want to get involved, that’s brilliant; you will help direct us to where there is a desire and interest in Casserole, which will influence how we map out where to go next!

If you are the first, or one of the first in your area to sign up, you can help lead the home-cooked revolution and ask us to send you a campaign pack to help kick start Casserole in your neighbourhood. The pack contains a few posters, some flyers and some tricks of the trade on how to get your community involved. While we work to get Reigate and Banstead up and running, your initiative to get things started in your own area will help us to grow and build a thriving Casserole service and community.

Throughout this journey, so many people have contributed their thoughts, experience, and resources to Casserole’s development.  Our partners, Surrey County Council and Reigate and Banstead Borough Council have helped us navigate the rough waters of food hygiene and safety measures, and have helped promote and connect us with community organisations.We have also been very lucky to have the funding and support of the Design Council and Technology Strategy Board through the Independence Matters- Home and Away programme, which has allowed us to pilot, research and build Casserole.

On a local level, we’ve had so much support from businesses like Chalk Hills Bakery and The Art of Living, and organisations like Live at Home and NCT (and so many more!!) who have helped give us some credentials and support from trusted members of the community.

We are constantly looking for feedback, comments and suggestions on how to improve the site and the service, so please get in touch if you have something to say!

(and just a handy reminder that the first 50 people to register on the site will receive a £5 Sainsbury’s voucher and be entered to win a bespoke cookery hamper as a special thank you for trying out the new site.)