Raising awareness of the importance of good nutrition and hydration in care settings and growing membership are some of the aims of Neel Radia, the recently appointed National Chairman of the National Association of Care Catering (NACC). Prior to his appointment, he was the lead for the NACC’s Meal on Wheels campaign.

He says “The sector is facing many challenges and as a lead organisation for caterers working within the care sector, we need to keep banging the drum to ensure our members’ voices are heard and equally represented in a sector where good nutrition and hydration is still not given the podium it deserves.”
This is the fourth term Neel has served as National Chair. “The challenges we had when I was last chair (2013-2019) have got deeper and then Covid hit the industry hard. The biggest issues are lack of funding and recruitment. But I’m confident that as a team and industry, we will overcome them successfully.”
Training and development have played an important role for the NACC over the years and this year, the NACC is continuing this for members and the wider sector. Neel adds, “By training and sharing best practice, we can work together to raise the awareness of good nutrition and hydration and ensure we are offering the best to our service users.”

Finding staff and attracting young people into the industry is a major concern.

Neel says, “We need to make the industry more appealing and add more value to it through training and development. There are so many talented people working in the sector, so we need to promote these roles and opportunities so that young people consider the sector as a career.”

Neel is a well-known figure in the industry with over 25 years’ experience working with wholesalers and food manufacturers in hospitality and public sector catering, as well as leadership roles in the not-for-profit sector. At 16, he knew hospitality was his chosen career, undertaking work experience at a local hotel in the housekeeping department and the local hospital. He then attended West Herts College, where he attained a GNVQ in Hospitality and Tourism Management, before heading to Brighton University to study International Tourism Management. He did a short stint with Walt Disney World in Florida as cultural representative of the UK. “It was a fantastic experience. The organisation encourages learning and development.”

Neel is a strong believer in giving back to the community. During Covid, he set up Cake4Kindness to alleviate loneliness and social isolation for those experiencing homelessness. “We work with communities in London, bringing people to bake together and distribute cakes to rough sleepers and through shelters in London. Food is an amazing connector of people, so we find this gives an opportunity to connect and talk to people going through homelessness,” he says. A trustee of St Luke’s Hospice, Neel supports various charities through fundraising initiatives. He says, “If there are things you believe in or have a passion for, you will always make time for them.”

Past fundraisers have included the Couch to London Marathon in six months and a Tough Mudder assault course. He says, “Every two years, I do a fundraiser that allows me to step out of my comfort zone. The activities (apart from the London Marathon) were all completed with others in a similar position to me. Together we worked to overcome our fears to achieve these goals, which was mesmerising. I’m planning another fear factor activity this year. You’ll have to watch this space for that!”

Discover more about the NACC

Visit the National Association of Care Catering to find out more about their work and how you can get involved.