Mars Foods food scholarship programme reopens for applications

Mars Foods has opened applications for its Mars Food’s Ben’s Original’s Seat at the Table Programme – a UK scholarship initiative to help support access to skills building and mentorship for Black hospitality professionals so they can further their careers in the food industry.

Back for a second year, the programme was first established in the US in 2020 and was set up in partnership with Be Inclusive Hospitality. The programme aims to advance diversity in the food industry by addressing racial inequality in access to opportunities. Together, with education provider Leiths School of Food and Wine, the programme will offer 16 funded places on selected courses offered by the famous culinary institution.

The courses range from shorter specialised courses that run over a couple of days – such as Knife Skills – to longer accredited professional courses which run over a 10-week period – including Chefs Skills, ans Essential Cooking Certificate.

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Successful candidates will also be offered three hours of mentorship over three months via Be Inclusive Hospitality’s proven scheme to provide support, knowledge sharing and personal development. The selected courses are aimed at helping those who aspire to careers such as becoming a professional /private chef or running their own food business. Ben’s Original™ is investing £50,000 in this second year of the programme which will run from April to November 2024.

This program is open to applicants who identify as Black working in operational roles in UK hospitality (those involved in the day-to-day running of the operation such as Chefs, front of house or kitchen staff) who are looking to further their careers in the food industry.

While 17% of UK hospitality workers are from ethnically diverse backgrounds, the majority are working in lower paid jobs. This is especially true when it comes to Black hospitality workers who are one of the groups least likely to be in the highest paid roles, and second most likely to be in lower paid roles. Black hospitality workers are also least likely to have access to opportunities that would support career progression such as a coach, sponsor, development scheme or qualification. This data points to something systemically inequitable and has informed our understanding of where we should focus to help remove barriers.

Lorraine Copes, chief executive Be Inclusive Hospitality, added, “Last year’s programme provided the participants with priceless knowledge and practical experience, and I have witnessed the opportunities it has helped to unlock. I am excited about the programme’s return for a second year as we continue to advance racial equity in the industry. I’ve always aspired to work alongside brands that share our values, and we’ve discovered such a partnership in our collaboration with Ben’s Original.”

Nick Reade, general manager, Mars Food & Nutrition UK added, “The feedback from last year’s programme was extremely positive and we’re delighted to launch another year of partnership with Be Inclusive Hospitality and Leiths School of Food and Wine to deliver an impactful programme of opportunities that offer people a seat at the table. At Mars Food and Nutrition, we want to play our part in creating a more equitable and inclusive world and this includes helping those from underserved communities advance their careers in the UK Food industry so their ideas and voices can be heard and appreciated by all.”

To be eligible for the programme:  

  1. Applicants will need to have two years of experience working in hospitality and as part of the application process will be asked how this opportunity will help them to further their career ambition. Applicants will need to provide a written answer of 300 words about this.

2. Applications will close on 15 December 2023. Successful applicants will be chosen by a cross-organisation panel (made up of Mars Food, Leiths and Be Inclusive Hospitality) with finalists announced by the end of January.

3. To find out more, and to apply, visit:

For more information and a full summary of the eligibility criteria and courses available see here:  

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Paul Hill is the Editor of Better Wholesaling. He can be found on Twitter at @BW_PaulHill, or contacted via and 07960935659.


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