We recently had a keen City Harvest supporter, Jess Latchford, spend a day with us as a volunteer. Jess has been focused on the problems of food waste in London for many years, and is one of the many people trying to make a difference through her organisation Waste Knot (www.wasteknot.org.uk) Jess in her own words describes her enlightening day.
“Recently I was fortunate enough to be allowed to go out on the vans with some of the City Harvest London team. Having previously worked with CEO Laura Winningham and being an avid follower of the amazing work they do, I was eager to see it all in practice.
I arrived early doors on a sunny, summer’s day at the new depot in Acton to be greeted by Moe, one of the Operations team. She and I chatted an hour away and it was her stories and experiences that were to lay down the feel for the rest of the day. Working two jobs in the charity sector, the other with a local youth club, Moe is on the frontline when it comes to helping those in need of support and guidance. Having told me the youth club she is so committed to is due for closure due to severe cuts in government funding, I couldn’t help but think what the future would then hold for these children.
I was then put to work, busily unloading crates in the warehouse until Paula Merrony, the head of daily logistics, arrived to decide who would pick-up, deliver and drop-off from the various donors to the multitude of hostels, children’s projects and shelters in need. I went out with Paula to pick-up from a large supermarket in Wembley where myriad trolleys, bursting with produce, were offered to us. The amount of food astounded me and Paula reminded me this was just ONE shop from ONE supermarket chain. I was gobsmacked.
On our drive, Paula relayed stories of her life to me. To say that she is remarkable is an understatement. Once the produce had been divided up between the three vans back at the depot, I was sent off with Debbie, who again, had a plethora of life experience and stories to share with me. We delivered to various places including Acton Homeless Concern who put on meals for the homeless on a drop-in basis. The place was buzzing with activity and empty bellies to be filled. We were helped with unloading by a couple of the regulars and the chef was extremely grateful for all that we gave her.
Being the height of summer, the pressure for nutritious food from City Harvest London sways from the night shelters to children’s projects. We delivered to a site near the Grenfell Tower which had been overrun with residents needing support, distraction, care and food and to a school which ran holiday clubs on very little money, keeping little hands busy and tummies filled during the long holiday break.
It’s not only food which City Harvest rescue and redistribute. We also delivered several crates of vital baby goods to a couple of different community centres. Last on the list was a food bank. With a queue out the door, we knew the produce we were giving them was going to be snapped-up quickly. A mother and her child had found a rickety old scooter which had been left outside, wrapped-up. I will never forget the look on the little girl’s face. Pure joy, gratitude and elation.
We made our way back to the depot at which point I thanked everyone profusely for having me and made my way home. The mix of emotions was deep. A heavy heart teamed with a renewed fire to help do something about the plight which some people face. I will hopefully be returning to help nearer to Christmas when the stress switches back on to the night shelters and I urge anyone else to do the same. City Harvest are able to operate mostly due to volunteers and are always in need of more. If you’re interested or you are a company that has produce (food or otherwise) to donate, contact City Harvest on email@example.com”
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